Goldman Sachs cuts UK gas price forecast near 5 pct
* Downward revised 2012 gas price still 9 p/th above market
* Bank extends long recommendation to Q3 and Q4 2012 UK gas
* Sees oil-index spread narrowing to $2.60/mmBtu from $3.80/mmBtu
LONDON, April 12 (Reuters) - Investment bank Goldman Sachs has cut its UK gas price forecast for 2012 by nearly five percent to 69.7 pence per therm due to high storage inventories following a mild winter, it said Thursday.
Despite the downward revision, its latest forecast remains 9 pence above the current wholesale market value of gas traded on the UK gas market, known as the National Balancing Point (NBP), it said.
"We also introduce a constructive 2013 UK NBP forecast at 77.9 pence/therm, 11.2 p/th above the market," the bank said.
But the return of mild temperatures and a faster-than-expected restart of Japanese nuclear reactors could necessitate further downward revisions, it said.
Only one of Japan's 54 atomic plants remain online in the wake of last year's Fukushima nuclear disaster pending safety checks. The nuclear shutdowns led to higher imports of substitute fuels like gas, diverting supplies away from the UK and Europe.
A nuclear restart would alleviate perceived shortages in UK gas supply and drive down prices.
The bank expects UK gas prices to rise toward forecast levels over the next few months as Europe competes with Asia for limited numbers of LNG cargoes.
"Accordingly, we are pulling forward our long UK NBP trading recommendation, rolling it from 4Q2012 to 3Q2012, as we believe incremental liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports will be required to help fill inventories before the start of the winter," it said.
It also expects the spread between UK and oil-indexed gas prices on the continent to narrow to $2.60 per million British thermal units compared with $3.80/mmBtu currently priced in for 2012.
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