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UK power exports to France, Belgium continue through Nov 25 morning peak

Highlights

Reviving UK wind output helps France

UK gas stocks at 17.5 TWh, 7% up YoY

December NBP contract at 235.05 p/th

Falling temperatures twinned with sub-par French nuclear availability saw UK power exports to France and Belgium ramp up into the Nov. 25 morning peak, system data showed.

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Over 2 GW of UK exports to France and Belgium were seen into the morning peak as UK wind output lifted overnight from 6 GW to 10 GW, suppressing UK gas generation 3 GW day-on-day to 17 GW.

French spot day-ahead power prices had reached a multi-year high at Eur302.14/MWh ($339.00/MWh) on Nov. 24, EPEX data showed, as outages at Dampierre 2 and 4 units and Cattenom 3 reduced French nuclear generation.

The comparable UK contract was assessed by Platts at Eur253.60/MWh, down Eur46/MWh day on day.

It was a different story in the UK NBP gas market, where Platts assessed the day-ahead contract at 233.50 pence/therm, up 5 p/th day-on-day.

With UK heating demand set to remain high in the short term, gas spot prices have continued to rise due to the lower temperatures and some limited planned outages in Norway, and no sign of strengthening westbound gas flows from alternative routes.

As such the UK remains vulnerable to sharp gas demand increases given its lack of seasonal gas storage since the closure in 2017 of the Rough storage facility.

The UK does have a number of smaller shorter-cycle gas storage sites, which can offer some flexibility for withdrawals on peak demand days.

According to data from National Grid, the UK's gas stocks as of Nov. 24 stood at 17.5 TWh -- or around 1.6 Bcm -- of gas, which is around 7% higher than the volume stored at the same time last year.

Nonetheless, the UK still has one of Europe's lowest gas storage capacities, leaving the UK much less resilient to supply issues than other European countries that can hold up to 30% of annual demand in storage.

The UK government earlier this month said, however, that it would not be better protected from the current high gas prices if it still had access to Rough.

"We base our security of supply on diversity of supply," Alexandra Howe, head of gas security, networks and markets at the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), said at the Flame conference in Amsterdam.

With the record high gas prices, there have been calls for the UK government to look to reinstate Rough as a storage facility.

According to S&P Global Platts price assessments, month-ahead gas prices at the UK NBP are currently the most expensive among Europe's traded gas hubs along with Spain.

S&P Global Platts assessed the December NBP contract at 235.05 p/th on Nov. 24, up by more than 500% year on year.

In continental Europe, countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Italy have significant storage capacity to help meet winter demand.

Howe said this was not necessarily advantageous at current prices. "It perhaps isn't helping some of our European colleagues out that much having to fill up their sites at the moment," she said.