Gas prices continue to rise in Europe as Nord Stream 2 awaits operational clearance, although Putin comments suggest relief might come
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Combustion Industry News Editor
Gas prices in Europe have risen further as the supply/demand relationship is stretched even more towards limited supply. November future prices at the benchmark Dutch TTF hub reached €97.73 per megawatt hour in late September (falling slightly afterwards), making prices around 400% higher than earlier in the year. At the heart of the matter appears to be that the recently-completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline has not yet been granted an operating clearance from German regulators, and that Gazprom has appeared unwilling to increase flows from other pipelines in the meantime. (One can see the strategic logic to this on the part of Gazprom, and it continues to fulfil its existing contractual obligations for supply through other pipelines.) Uniper, a financial partner of Gazprom on the Nord Stream 2 project, does not expect the operating licence to be granted quickly, meaning prices will remain high for some time to come unless flows through existing pipelines are increased, while reserve storage within Europe is expected to be further diminished. Supply from Russia to Europe through the Yamal-Europe pipeline, which crosses Poland, is down by around three-quarters, and there is competition for LNG deliveries, with Asian buyers determined to secure supply for winter. One suspects that there will be strong pressure on the German regulator to clear commencement of operations for Nord Stream 2. Some relief, though, has come from comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin, made on 6 October, that his country could help to stabilise prices.