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Greek LNG demand, prices rise amid on upcoming TurkStream maintenance

Highlights

TurkStream to undergo maintenance in early June

Imports remain below initially expected volumes

  • Author
  • Sakshi Jalan
  • Editor
  • Marieke Alsguth
  • Commodity
  • LNG Natural Gas Upstream

Greece has started to see an uptick in LNG demand and prices in mid-May on upcoming maintenance at the TurkStream pipeline and ongoing trade passage restrictions through the Suez Canal.

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Greece has imported a total of 70,000 mt of LNG in May so far, according to May 17 S&P Global Commodity Insights data, down 29% on the year. However, imports have seen an uptick from April, when the country did not import any LNG.

Another cargo is expected to arrive at Greece's Revithoussa terminal around May 26 on the LNG Schneeweisschen, which loaded from the US Freeport LNG terminal on May 10, according to S&P Global Commodities at Seadata.

Despite low demand in Greece in the ongoing shoulder season, market participants have reported strong trade and offer levels in the past week. The region had been primarily relying on pipeline natural gas in recent weeks, as importing LNG became uneconomic in a period of high LNG prices and healthy gas availability.

"Power prices are high, so there is is big generation from gas power plants," a Mediterranean-based trader said.

However, with TurkStream gas pipeline maintenance scheduled for the first week of June, Greece could need to secure some volumes to compensate for the losses expected to kick in, according to market sources.

"Turkstream has a maintenance planned for early June, so no Russian gas during those days," the trader said.

Moreover, there are also some technical constraints reported from the Sidirokastro entry point, which could be aiding bullishness sentiment in Greece as it tries to secure the molecule from alternative sources.

Sidirokastro is the entry point for the gas distributed through Bulgaria, including gas imported from Russia through the TurkStream pipeline.

"The system is short, volumes from Sidirokastro are being interrupted too often because of technical constrains so they need to secure gas from another source too," the trader added.

Additionally, the Red Sea restrictions persist, which has elevated the prices in the East Mediterranean region. Greece is having to compete with regions like Italy, Turkey and Egypt, which have some of the strongest bids in the whole of Europe, according to market sources. In fact, Italy is one of the few markets in Europe which has not been priced out and is still seeing an uptick in LNG imports year-on-year.

This price competition could compel Greece to purchase LNG at a higher price level, despite the overall demand bearishness in the region.

"It's because of the Suez Canal closure," an Atlantic-based trading analyst said. "Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt must be trading at a strong premium [to TTF]."

Despite an overall uptick in price levels and demand, LNG imports were still below the initially expected volumes.

According to Desfa's Annual LNG Unloading Plan, players in Greece had originally intended to import around four cargoes in May, but the cargo number was lowered to two in later revisions, reducing the total imports from 2.317 TWh to 1 TWh.

Mytilineos and PPC were expected to import 0.5 TWh of LNG each on May 12 and May 14, respectively, flowed by 0.317 TWh from MET on May 16 and another 1 TWh from Elpedison on May 26. In a subsequent revision of the plan, the cargo scheduled for May 16 was cancelled. Later, the May 12 delivery was revised down to 0.02 TWh and May 26 delivery was revised down to 0.5 TWh. Subsequently, May 14 delivery was also cancelled.

Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, assessed LNG DES East Mediterranean Marker for July delivery at $9.849/MMBtu on May 16, at a premium of 5 cents/MMBtu to July TTF hub futures price and 20 cents/MMBtu premium to DES Northwest Europe.