Financial News

  • 3 April 2014, 13:16

UK Wholesale Gas Prices Hit New Low

British wholesale natural gas prices hit a two-and-a-half-year low on Wednesday, as warm weather continues to drive down demand.

Reaching their lowest price since October 2011, gas prices for next-day delivery traded at 48.6p per therm, down 1.75p on the previous day's close.

It leaves the system in excess of 28.1 million cubic metres (mcm), as supply flows are at 220.2 mcm per day and demand is expected to be 192.1 mcm.

The National Grid says that gas demand for this time of year is 25% lower than normal, as meteorologists expect temperatures in Britain to remain above the seasonal average.

One unnamed gas trader told Reuters: "There's plenty of gas around at the moment to satisfy demand, and with the weather expected to stay warm for the next few days,

"I don't see any let-up."

It comes as the so-called big six energy suppliers face pressure to cut bills for UK households.

While the Labour Party has touted price freezes, industry regulator Ofgem recently confirmed a competition inquiry into the energy market, that could see the major players being broken up, separating their retail and wholesale supply arms.

Meanwhile, European concerns over supplies from Russia's top natural gas producer Gazprom, have eased on news that the company is keen to maintain "mutually beneficial relations".

Europe receives half of its gas from Russia via Ukraine and on-going tensions have thrown that into question.

On Tuesday, Gazprom said it was hiking the gas cost Ukraine pays by 44%.

In response, US secretary of state John Kerry on Wednesday denounced the use of energy as a weapon.

"It really boils down to this: No nation should use energy to stymie a people's aspirations," Mr Kerry said.

"It should not be used as a weapon. It's in the interest of all of us to be able to have adequate energy supplies critical to our economies, critical to our security, critical to the prosperity of our people."