Warm winter sparks slump in wholesale gas prices
WHOLESALE gas prices are trading at levels not seen since 2011 due in part to strong supplies and weak demand across Europe, it has been claimed.
Analysts said the slump in prices has been driven by consistently lower than average demand for gas over the last six months thanks to warmer weather conditions and increased shipments of liquefied gas from major suppliers including Qatar.
This has led to substantially increased gas storage levels in the UK market, a source of supply for Ireland, according to the latest wholesale market report from Irish energy supplier Vayu.
Vayu claimed there has been a 30pc drop in Irish wholesale gas prices year-on-year.
Joanne Daly, Vayu energy analyst, said strong supply means very little risk of a rise in wholesale prices at present.
"With temperatures expected to remain at or above seasonal normal levels into June, we're seeing prices for gas contracts further out than one month being dragged down by the prospect of reduced demand and lower requirements to build up inventories," she said.
While downward pressure has been placed on prices, Ms Daly said there has been some volatility from the crisis between Russia and Ukraine.
"While markets remain sensitive to the situation in Ukraine and continue to factor a political risk premium into prices, there has been very little upward pressure on prices," Ms Daly said.
"In fact, concerns over Russian gas supplies to Europe appear to have further hastened the build-up of inventories in Europe."
Vayu said UK gas inventories are currently more than three times the levels at the same point last year and high rates of injection into storage are continuing unabated.