February 15, 2012 / 9:56 AM / 8 years ago

UK spot gas prices rise despite mild weather

* Low LNG flows leave system slightly undersupplied

* But mild weather pulls gas demand below seasonal norm

London, Feb 15 (Reuters) - British spot gas prices rose slightly on Wednesday morning as low gas flows from liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals left the system slightly undersupplied despite mild temperatures.

Gas flows into the system from all of Britain’s LNG terminals were only expected to be around 18 million cubic metres (mcm), according to Point Carbon.

With total expected flows of 320.5 mcm and expected demand of 323.6 mcm, this meant that the system was forecast to be 3.1 mcm short on Wednesday, according to data from National Grid.

This implied the need for further gas storage withdrawals.

UK gas storage sites were 50.6 percent full on Tuesday, comparable to overall European levels, according to Gas Infrastructure Europe.

In January, British gas storage sites were still filled up to around 75 percent of capacity.

The shortfall came despite daily demand being around 2.7 percent below the seasonal norm of 332.4 mcm.

As a result of the undersupplied gas system, spot gas prices rose slightly, compared with Tuesday morning. Only a week ago, daily gas demand in Britain was over 20 percent above the seasonal average.

Day-ahead gas price traded around 57.90 pence per therm at 0915 GMT, up 1.4 pence since Tuesday, and prices for within-day delivery were up half a pence to 58 pence a therm.

Power prices for baseload (24 hours) delivery on Thursday were at 44.50 pounds per megawatt-hour, up 1.25 pounds since Tuesday morning.

Both power and gas spot prices were at levels common during the high demand winter heating season, and despite the slight rise in prices, the mild temperatures expected until the weekend meant that traders expected demand and prices to fall in the near-term.

“Consumption is forecasted down for day-ahead, giving a bearish (price) signal for the day-ahead (gas) contract,” analysts at Point Carbon said, and added that they expected prices to range between 57.30 and 57.50 pence per therm.

WEATHER

The weather outlook for the remaining working days of this week is mild, with nighttime temperatures around 4 degrees Celsius and daytime temperatures of up to 9 degrees.

The weekend outlook, however, was mixed.

The UK’s Met Office said that it expected wintery conditions to return by Saturday, while weather forecasters at Point Carbon said that they expected “rather mild and windy weather” over the weekend.

TECHNICALS

Further out on the price curve, the UK NBP summer 2012 gas contract was also up slightly.

Trading at 56 pence per therm, the contract broke through the 50 exponential daily moving average (DMA) resist marker at 55.90 pence, although it remained well below its 100 and 200 DMAs of 57.83 and 59.21 pence respectively.

Despite the rise, the contract’s moving average convergence-divergence (MACD) signal lines could cross for the first time since mid-January, and such a move would imply more bearish price momentum. (Reporting by Henning Gloystein, editing by William Hardy)

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