Transitgas prompts strong Italian withdrawals; UK levels low year on year
Gas withdrawals from European storage sites totalled 2.7 billion cubic metres (Gm³) in the last week of 2011, buoyed by 1.2Gm³ of withdrawals in Italy after the Transitgas pipeline reopened on 24 December.
Traders said Italian shippers felt more confident taking gas out of storage now that Transitgas can provide Italy with a steady supply of gas, at least until the end of February,
Data from Gas Storage Europe (GSE) shows that fullness levels in the UK storage sites slipped 4.55 percentage points week on week. This took the UK's supply of gas in storage to below 50% full. In week 52/2009, the UK's gas storage sites were 82% full.
"It really is due to the early cold snap this year" a trader explained. "In Winter '09 the cold snap hit much later, so withdrawals were not as heavy early on."
However, the UK's gas demand dropped over the Christmas period, pegged at 370.92 million cubic metres (Mm³) on 27 December, down from 434Mm³ on 17 December.
Interconnector flows switched in the direction UK to Belgium on 29 December 2010, for the first time since 24 November 2010, in response to this softening demand.
Meanwhile, Belgium registered the highest levels of gas in storage out of the whole of Europe (82.22%).
"With Belgium at 82.22% full, week on week and demand slackening, the UK's gas supply will be fine for the moment," a trader said.
There was more concern from French traders about France's storage levels, at 50.82% full as opposed to 77% full this time last year.
French gas demand averaged 208Mm³ per day over the week to 27 December 2010, and France withdrew 230Mm³ for the entire period.
Germany and Austria withdrew 301Mm³ and 606Mm³ respectively over the week, but storage fullness levels in both countries still sit comfortably above 70%. JSH
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