British, EU gas prices soar as less Russian gas expected on Friday

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A vessel carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo from Russia's Yamal LNG project, is seen at Rudong LNG Terminal in Nantong, Jiangsu province, China July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

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LONDON, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Benchmark British and European wholesale gas prices closed at record highs on Thursday after data indicated Russian gas exports to Germany through the major Yamal pipeline were not expected on Friday.

Europe relies on Russia for around 35% of its natural gas. The bulk comes through pipelines including Yamal which goes through Belarus and Poland to Germany, Nord Stream which goes directly to Germany, and pipelines going through Ukraine.

The Dutch wholesale front-month gas contract , a European benchmark, closed at 145 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) on Thursday, its highest ever close and near its all time trading high of 155 euros/MWh seen in October.

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The British equivalent closed at 3.46 pounds per therm having earlier hit a record 3.58 pounds/therm.

Traders said prices were reacting to the news that requests for Russian gas flows through the Yamal-Europe pipeline into Germany at the Mallnow metering point were at zero from 06:00 a.m. local time on Dec. 17, as indicated by operator Gascade's website.

Flows to Germany had been stable for the past few days and stood at an hourly volume of 12,192,544 kilowatt hours (kWh) on Thursday morning. read more

Britain typically gets around 5% of its gas from Russia but its gas prices also often move on Russian supply news as lower Russian exports to Europe means less could be available from its largest suppliers, like Norway, due to competition from European buyers. read more

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Reporting By Susanna Twidale; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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