Updated: HUPX power price spike pushes Hungarian June into bull territory

12 May 2017 16:20 Source:ICIS

The Hungarian and Romanian Day-ahead electricity products for delivery on Saturday on the local exchanges spiked on Friday, triggering a bullish rush on over-the-counter (OTC) prompt and front-month contracts.

The Saturday price on Hungarian exchange HUPX was €49.37/MWh – some €9.37/MWh above the last reported price on the equivalent OTC product and €11.25/MWh above Friday’s exchange price. The Romanian Day-ahead on exchange OPCOM was flat to the HUPX price.

Traders were caught by surprise by the extremely high price, despite some bullish fundamentals such as forecasts for low wind in Romania and the return of the Bulgarian-Greek interconnector which opened up opportunities for exports towards Greece.

Some flows from Bulgaria that would have gone towards Romania were redirected towards Greece, according to two traders, indicating the Hungarian spikes were unforeseen.

One of them pointed to very high traded volume on Bulgarian exchange IBEX which also closed relatively high for Saturday at €36.21/MWh, up from a Friday price of €30.74/MWh.

Furthermore, there was an unplanned outage at Hungary’s Paks nuclear plant, although information about the outage on transparency website insideinformation.hu did not appear until after the exchanges had closed.

Both 250MW turbines of Paks unit 1 experienced electrical equipment failures on Friday that will mean they will be taken offline from 02:00 central European Time (CET) on Saturday, according to messages appearing on the website between 13:09-13:18 on Friday, whereby HUPX and OPCOM close at 11:00 CET.

The 500MW unit should remain unavailable until 16:00 on Monday, although one of the 250MW turbines should be online between 11:00 on Saturday and 07:00 on Monday.

Surprise

Regional traders said that no one on the market seemed to be aware of the outage prior to the close of trading. However this was not reflected in the HUPX day-ahead price.

One participant said that if traders were aware of the Paks outage, there would have been a lot of selling interest on Hungarian products from Italian and Greek companies, looking to flow power into Hungary to take advantage of the loss of Paks.

But both the Italian and Greek Saturday prices were much lower than Hungary, meaning there was no evidence that regional traders knew the loss of Hungarian capacity was coming.

“It shows that the bullishness caught the market by huge surprise, otherwise the order book would have been full of Italian and Greek sellers which wasn’t the case,” he said.

As a result the Hungarian Day-ahead for delivery on Monday, Week 20 and even June ‘17 soared on the OTC screen.

Monday was initially trading at €43.00/MWh but started to gain ground after the HUPX results were published, hitting a high of €47.00/MWh. Similarly, the front week gained from €39.50/MWh to €40.75/MWh in the session.

Liquidity on the front month was fairly sparse compared to the previous session reflecting the market’s uncertainty after the unexpected spike.

Nevertheless, the contract regained the majority of losses accumulated in the previous session last trading at €40.10/MWh.

Outlook

Friday’s unexpected turn of events brought a lot of uncertainty to the market. A third trader said he expected the price for Monday on exchange HUPX to deliver below the last OTC traded level.

Nevertheless, there is the possibility of the Paks outage being extended over the weekend. Although a fourth trader said that MVM, the plant’s operator, had an incentive to bring it back as soon as possible, otherwise it would suffer losses. This was backed by the partial scheduled return of one unit between 11:00 on Saturday and 07:00 on Monday

In theory spot prices should calm down in week 20, he added, as they were currently “unbelievably [high] for this time of year and this weather”. But he also pointed to the many surprises that the regional spot market had brought so far this year.

“It’s more risky to be short than long,” he said. irina.peltegova@icis.com


By Irina Peltegova