The price of gas touches its historical maximum in Europe after the new decrease in shipments from Russia | Economy
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Natural gas is returning to the zone of extreme turbulence, if it ever left it. The price of this fuel, essential for industry and the generation of electricity in the main European countries, touched 230 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) early this Wednesday, an unprecedented level since the beginning of March, shortly after of the outbreak of war in Ukraine.
The umpteenth escalation in the reference market for the bloc, the Dutch TTF, comes after Russia consummated this Wednesday morning its threat to further reduce the supply of gas through Nord Stream 1 – the main gas pipeline that links the Eurasian giant with the EU, which accounts for a third of the total received— and that the state gas company Gazprom accused the German company Siemens of the pumping problems. And it leaves the price one step away from the 270 euros per MWh that it reached at noon on March 7.
After soaring to 227 euros, gas contracts with delivery in August closed the session at 205 euros, after recording an increase of 2.5%. The rise —the sixth in a row— comes at the height of the deposit-filling season, with most EU countries stocking up ahead of an especially tense autumn and winter: even if the 15% savings plan in Twenty-seven ends up being fulfilled to the letter, the supply is by no means guaranteed.
The deputy CEO of the Russian gas giant Gazprom, Vitaly Markelov, accused Germany’s Siemens Energy on Wednesday of pumping problems through Nord Stream 1, which since Wednesday is supplying gas at 20% of its capacity. This additional decrease compared to the usual flow further complicates the plans of European countries, especially Germany, to fill their hydrocarbon reserves in anticipation of a potential total cutoff of supply by Moscow. German authorities have responded by accusing Russia of using its dominant position in the energy market in a “power game”.
Markelov has underlined that, of the six pumping turbines that the gas pipeline has, only one works at full capacity; another is in Canada after being repaired and the remaining four have completed the 25,000 hours of service required before an in-depth overhaul—which, according to Gazprom, is to be carried out by Siemens.
Germany has rejected Gazprom’s latest claims and has stated that there are no technical reasons to reduce gas pumping by the German gas company. The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, has assured this Wednesday that the Russian giant Gazprom exports all the gas it can to Europe and has blamed Western sanctions for the decrease in supply.
The gap between Spain and the rest of the continent grows
Spain is by no means immune to the escalation in the price of gas, a fuel that it uses intensively for electricity generation: even more so in the height of summer, when wind generation collapses and combined cycles operate at full capacity. However, the price in the Iberian Peninsula has been separated from that of the rest of the continent in a matter of weeks. The Spanish-Portuguese market Mibgas closed this Wednesday at 148 euros per MWh, 57 below the Dutch TTF. The gap has widened even more in recent days, in which the change in pattern compared to what was usual before the energy shock has been consolidated: peninsular prices higher than north of the Pyrenees.
This shift responds, above all, to the greater regasification capacity of Spain and Portugal: four out of 10 gas processing facilities that arrive by ship in Europe are on the Peninsula and that, in times like those the bloc is experiencing today, They are big words. In addition, peninsular underground storage levels show significantly better levels than in most neighboring countries: 100% in Portugal and 76% in Spain, compared to a community average that barely reaches 67%. Less need to fill is also less demand. And less demand leads to lower prices in a global dog-fight for the gas that is put on the market.