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Drop in Algerian natural gas flows to Italy linked to terrorist attack

17 Jan 2013 18:18:48 | esgm

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Natural gas flows from Algeria to Italy dropped on Thursday, with market sources speculating the cause was related to a terrorist situation at the Saharan In Amenas processing facility.

Data from Italian transmission system operator (TSO) Snam Rete Gas indicated at 15:00 London time that 62.0 million cubic metres (Mm³) was forecast to be imported from the African country on Thursday, down from the earlier-nominated 75.2Mm³.

Traders at the Italian PSV hub said the likely closure of In Amenas, following a hostage situation, was the possible reason for the drop in volumes via the Transmed pipe into Mazara del Vallo.

The daily delivery of Transmed so far this year has averaged 75.3Mm³.

The PSV Day-ahead contract on Thursday closed €0.35/MWh higher at €27.65/MWh, less of an increase than at the French hubs. But it did reinstate a premium to the Dutch TTF, which closed at a discount on Thursday.

In Amenas is operated by incumbent Sonatrach, Norwegian Statoil and Britain's BP. The facility is understood to have shut down following the taking of hostages on Wednesday. The plant and field produce around 24.6Mm³/day.

Data from Spanish TSO Enagás indicated that flows from Morocco via the Maghreb-Tarifa pipeline - which sources its gas from Algeria - and through the Medgaz pipeline into Almería were largely unchanged, however.

But one trader with capacity through Medgaz said he understood that there had been some disruption to flows during the previous session.

"There was some reduction in flows [on Wednesday] but I think [on Thursday] it should be back to normal," he said.

Output from In Amenas is transported to Hassi R' Mel and then onward to the domestic Algerian market as well as European hubs. Gas from Algeria can also be exported to the wider international markets from the LNG terminals at Skikda and Arzew.

BP confirmed that its larger Algerian facility at In Salah, which also feeds Hassi R' Mel, was still producing, although operating with heightened security.

Data from the BP Statistical Review show that in 2011, Algeria produced 78 billion cubic metres (Gm³) of gas, of which 28Gm³ was consumed domestically.

Neither Statoil nor Sonatrach were available to comment on Thursday. TMM/SM/RS

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