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Natural gas storage sites dip lower as injection season approaches

13 Mar 2012 16:20:36 | esgm

European natural gas reserves dropped even lower in the last seven days, one of the last weeks of sizable withdrawals before storage operators turn their attention towards the approaching injection season.

Data from Gas Storage Europe (GSE) show that in the week to 12 March, almost 1.6 billion cubic metres was withdrawn from storage sites across the continent.

This was the largest gas withdrawal in four weeks and a large increase from the 665 million cubic metres (Mm³) withdrawn in the previous week. Temperatures dropped closer to seasonal averages in the region, increasing gas demand and lending support to prompt prices at European hubs.

Storage facilities stand at 42% fullness, ticking lower by 2 percentage points week on week. The supply situation remains comfortable as summer approaches, with gas demand expected to dwindle in the coming weeks.

Sites still remain fuller than at the same time in 2011, when storage fullness was 39%.

Indeed, with the exception of the Iberian hub, Zeebrugge in Belgium and Italy's PSV, all other hubs recorded daily gas injections during the week.

Over one-third of the total was withdrawn from German storage sites, with 621Mm³ withdrawn from the country's large storage sites as players sought to capitalise on prompt prices at the NCG. By Monday, the Day-ahead price at the German hub had opened a €1.45/MWh premium over its TTF equivalent.

However, the latest GSE daily data have shown that German injection rates outstrip withdrawals, suggesting that German sites have reached their emptiest point, at 47% fullness.

France's PEG sites registered gas withdrawals of 424Mm³ during the week. The country is home to the emptiest storage sites in Europe.

Following last week's GSE amendments to data supplied by French transmission system operator TIGF, French site fullness stands at 23%.

The Baumgarten hub, which is disaggregated to represent the individual countries it encompasses, withdrew 290Mm³ from storage. The largest withdrawals within this hub were recorded in Hungary.

The Iberian hub remains the fullest in Europe at 63%. After France, the LNG reliant Zeebrugge hub is the next emptiest, at 35% fullness. JE

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