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Dutch gas exports to Belgium, Germany near Winter 2016-17 high

Natural gas exports from the Netherlands to Belgium and Germany combinedrose sharply on Monday's gas day to edge close to the high seen during theprevious winter-delivery period, data from Platts Analytics' Eclipse Energyshowed Tuesday.

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The Netherlands exported a total of 163 million cu m of gas to Belgiumand Germany combined at the beginning of the week, the highest figure for agas day since January 23 and only marginally shy of the Winter 2016-17 high of170 million cu m from January 18.

Exports were split between Belgium at 87 million cu m -- the highestexport figure since mid-February -- and Germany at 76 million cu m -- thehighest export figure since late January.

Gas exports from the Netherlands have risen steeply from the levels seenduring the first month of the winter-delivery period, where net Dutch exportsto Belgium averaged 17 million cu m/d, where net exports to Germany have risenat a slower rate after having averaged 42 million cu m/d during October.

Belgium has received the majority of the Dutch gas export increase inrecent weeks, with the UK-Belgium Interconnector flipping into export modeallied to firm demand for Dutch gas from France -- Belgium exported 16 millioncu m to the UK and 60 million cu m to France during Monday's gas day.

L-CAL GAS EXPORTS REMAIN STRONG

L-cal gas exports from the Netherlands to neighboring countries haveremained firm despite the weaker production seen from the giant GroningenL-cal gas field in recent years.

Indeed, Dutch L-cal gas exports are on course to set a new record for acalendar year so far this decade with a total of 24.788 Bcm having beenexported to Belgium and Germany combined so far this year, up 8% on theJanuary 1-November 27, 2016, period and already well above the 22.816 Bcmtotal for the whole of 2015.

During the first month of the Winter 2017-18 delivery period, productionat Groningen came in at 1.78 Bcm, according to data from operator NAM,compared with Dutch domestic L-cal demand of 1.514 Bcm and L-cal gas exportsof 2.140 Bcm during October.

This has been managed by an increase in H-cal gas to L-cal gas conversionin the Netherlands, done by adding nitrogen to H-cal gas.

According to data from Gasunie, the amount of H-cal gas used to beconverted into L-cal gas during the first ten months of the year was 25%higher on an annual basis at 12.587 Bcm and already well above the 8.783 Bcmtotal for the whole of 2015.

H-CAL EXPORTS UNDER PRESSURE IN Q1

With the Netherlands-UK BBL pipeline set to be incorporated into the TTFarea from January 1 onwards, reducing transit costs, and flows from Belgium tothe UK expected to rise on more economical ZEE/NBP price spreads in the comingmonths, H-cal supply to Germany could come under pressure at the beginning of2018.

With high Russian flows into Germany expected to continue for theremainder of the Winter 2017-18 delivery period and robust storage levels dueto large net injections seen in October, pricing on the German hubs is set tobe lower than other European hubs during the first quarter of next year.

Indeed, the GASPOOL Q1 18 contract was assessed by S&P Global Platts atEur20.30/MWh on Monday, 25 euro cent lower than the TTF equivalent andEur1.981/MWh shy of the NBP price for the same period.

Moreover, the NetConnect Germany Q1 18 contract was assessed atEur20.725/MWh, 40 euro cent below the PEG Nord equivalent and 51.5 euro centshy of the Zeebrugge Beach peer, further indicating that on a pure pricebasis, Dutch H-cal gas exports look set to be moved west rather than east.

--Gary Hornby, gary.hornby@spglobal.com

--Edited by James Leech, james.leech@spglobal.com