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Gas price rise: How high can natural gas prices go as Dutch TTF futures jump 30% after Russia shuts Nord Stream 1?

By Neil Dennis

10:13, 5 September 2022

Nord Stream pipeline before it goes under the Baltic sea
Gazprom says it detected an oil leak on one of the pipeline's turbines - Photo: Shutterstock

European natural gas prices surged on Monday after Russian supplies into Europe through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline remained suspended after weekend maintenance work.

Dutch TTF gas futures (TGV22) – the European benchmark – soared 30% to €280 per megawatt hour (M/H). By contrast, US natural gas at Henry Hub was up just 1.6% to $8.93 per million British thermal units (MMBtu).

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Weaponising energy

Gazprom, the Russian state-controlled energy operator, said at the weekend that the Nord Stream 1 pipeline would remain closed indefinitely after an oil leak was detected on a turbine.

The company statement said: “Gas transportation to the Nord Stream gas pipeline has been completely halted until the complaints on the operation of the equipment have been eliminated.”

The pipeline – the biggest single gas supply into Europe – runs from Vyborg, a Russian terminal in the Gulf of Finland, to Lubmin in Germany under the Baltic Sea and had, before the Russia/Ukraine war, supplied Europe with around a third of Russia's gas exports.

In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the West imposed sanctions on Russian industry and businessmen. Russia accuses the West of launching an economic war, while the West says Russia has weaponised its energy exports against Europe.

 

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Tit-for-tat response?

The pipeline was scheduled to have been re-opened on Saturday following three days of maintenance but, also on Saturday, G7 countries agreed to impose a price cap on Russian oil - was the pipeline closure Putin's response? It's a question analysts and politicians have been raising in the wake of the pipeline closure.

“Let's be real,” said Justin Low, analyst at ForexLive, “Nobody believes the ‘leak’ story and everyone knows Russia's game here. But the issue is, they are not out of place to play things out in the manner and the real hurt is going to be felt by European households and businesses in the months ahead.”

EU Council President Charles Michel took to Twitter: “Gazprom's move is sadly no surprise.”

“The use of gas as a weapon will not change the resolve of the EU. We will accelerate our path towards energy independence.”

Capacity constraints

Ahead of the announcement by Russia, Nord Stream had only been working at 20% capacity. Norwegian pipeline exports and LNG exports from Asia and the US have helped make up some of the shortfall, and storage facilities across Europe were reported to be around 80% capacity last week.

Indeed, as Europe began to see some respite last week, the Dutch TTF price fell sharply from the near €350 record high, hit on 29 August, to close at €214.66 on Friday. Its six session losing streak was the longest since December – before the Russia/Ukraine conflict, and when the price was around the €120 mark.

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