London — Norwegian natural gas exports to the UK jumped to their highest in six months Wednesday as consistently high UK prices incentivized flows normally only reserved for wintry periods.
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Supply through the Langeled pipeline, which makes landfall at the UK's Easington terminal, has sustained maximum throughput since reaching its technical capacity of 73 million cu m/d on Tuesday, while the Vesterled pipeline supply to St. Fergus jumped 15 million cu m/d to 27 million cu m/d.
This re-direction of Norwegian production culminated in aggregate supply to the UK reaching 121.5 million cu m/d by 1200 GMT on Wednesday.
Should these rates be sustained for the whole gas day, the Norwegian Continental Shelf would have delivered a daily quantity of gas tantamount to what the UK would normally receive from the NCS during meteorological winter periods.
The last time the UK imported from the NCS at such a rate was in mid-March, as unseasonably cold temperatures gripped the country following the so-called "Beast from the East" weather system.
Flows through the SEGAL pipeline, which delivers only to St Fergus Shell and separate from the main Gassco dry gas network, could also have been maximized were it not for maintenance on the Gjoa and Vega fields supplying SEGAL, which began on Wednesday is set to reduce availability by 12 million cu m/d. The work is set to continue until 1700 GMT on Thursday, at a cost of 6 million cu m/d for Thursday's gas day.
As a result of the increased in imports, the S&P Global Platts intraday assessment for within-day NBP gas tumbled by 3.85 p to 63.45 p/th.
The timing of these imports represents another symptom of the changing UK gas dynamic since the long-term capacity contracts on the bi-directional gas interconnector between the UK and Belgium expired, leading to a cessation of consistent imports through this transit and higher LNG regasification from the UK's three terminals.
With Continental Europe currently not supplying a baseload, and following the closure of the UK's long-range seasonal storage site Rough, North Sea production has become critical in maintaining consistency of supply.
As the UK's Theddlethorpe terminal closed in August, the Barrow terminal remains short of full operational capability and current UK Continental Shelf production approximately only 30 million cu m short of multi-year production highs, the UK's winter import dependence is increasingly coming into sharp focus.
Despite the UK only being two weeks into the gas winter, its requirement for gas has already been reflected in day-ahead and month-ahead pricing, which in turn has been responded to by Norwegian offshore producers attracted to consistently high UK premiums to other mainland European destinations.
By market close on Tuesday, the NBP held a 1.083 p/th day-ahead premium to the Dutch TTF hub, and a 2.30 p/th day ahead spread with the Belgian Zeebrugge physical trading hub. The equivalent month ahead spreads came to 3.125 p/th and 2.90 p/th respectively, with NBP pricing evidently decoupling from Europe as October began.
--Neil Hunter, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Jonathan Dart, email@example.com