Pipeline gas imports to Europe fell to a 14-month low in August, driven almost entirely by reduced supply from Norway.
According to data collated by ICIS, just shy of 23 billion cubic metres (bcm) of Russian, Norwegian and North African gas was shipped to the continent in August, down by 1.6% year on year and by nearly 5% compared to the previous month.
In the year to-date, pipeline exports to Europe were up 12% on the previous year at nearly 198bcm.
Maintenance of the Nord Stream pipeline and at the Mallnow grid point on the German/Polish border cut Russian gas supply to a nine-month low in August, but imports were up 2% compared to the previous year at 12.1bcm.
This was because while Nord Steam and Polish transit flows hit 2016-lows of 2.6bcm and 3.2bcm respectively, Russian volumes transiting Ukraine and entering Slovakia hit a 13-month high of 4.4bcm in August.
Flows to Hungary and the Balkan states were unchanged compared to the previous month and up 16% compared to August 2015 at 1.1bcm, while deliveries to Turkey via Ukraine were down 31% on the previous year at 824 million cubic metres (mcm), despite rising from the 14-month low recorded in July.
Following the completion of key annual maintenance, imports from Russia are likely to rise in September and should help northwest Europe to cover the shortfall in supply from Norway, where annual maintenance restrictions will peak in the first half of the month.
Europe imported 12.3bcm from Russia in September 2015 and, despite much fuller stocks compared to this time last year, flows may be little changed in 2016 as there still appears to be enough free storage capacity to facilitate a similar volume of injections compared to last year.
According to data collated by ICIS there is room for a further 12.3bcm of injections into European sites (excluding Britain) ahead of the winter. Last year, between the start of September and mid-October when withdrawals commenced, a little more than 9bcm was stored across the continent according to ICIS data.
In the calendar year to-date, Russian exports to Europe have exceeded 100bcm and are up 15% compared to the same time last year.
Norwegian exports to Europe fell to a 16-month low in August and were down 18% compared to the previous year.
The drop coincided with a step-up in maintenance restrictions, although this does not appear to have been the decisive factor. For much of September, combined Norwegian flows to Europe were below the restricted level of capacity available, meaning additional gas could have been delivered.
A lack of demand, particularly in Britain where injections into Rough have been unavailable since the end of June, appears to have played a greater role in suppressing Norwegian exports than the maintenance did. This is supported by the fact that the NBP Day-ahead and front month contracts shed 33% and 24% respectively across the month, despite the low flows.
Combined flows to Britain posted the biggest outright drop, falling to a 14-month low of 1.6bcm in August. Deliveries to Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands fell by between 11-26% compared to the previous year.
A final surge of maintenance restrictions in the first three weeks of September means that Norwegian supply to northwest Europe could fall further in the final month of summer. A total of 8.5bcm was delivered in September 2015, but flows are almost certain to fall short of that mark in September 2016.
Norwegian exports to Europe have totalled 72.1bcm in the year to-date, up nearly 4% compared to the 69.5bcm shipped between January-August 2015.
Natural gas imports from North Africa totalled 3.6bcm in August 2016 and were flat to the previous month but up by 22% compared to the same month last year. Imports comprised 3.2bcm from Algeria and 400 million cubic metres from Libya.
A total of 25.6bcm has been exported to Spain and Italy so far in 2016, up from 19.8bcm in the same months of 2015. firstname.lastname@example.org