European Gas Erases Gains as Market Weighs Strike on Iran

(Bloomberg) — European natural gas prices erased gains as Iran appeared to downplay the impact of reported Israeli strikes and the risk of an immediate response from Tehran. 

Benchmark futures fell 4.8% after gaining as much as 4.7% earlier on Friday. Prices were little changed week-on-week.

The strike came less than a week after Tehran’s rocket and drone barrage on Israel, according to two US officials. Early indications are that it was a “symbolic attack” that won’t force Iran to respond aggressively, retired Israeli General Israel Ziv told the nation’s Channel 12.

Read more: Energy Analysts Weigh Impact of Israel’s Military Strike on Iran

Still, rising geopolitical tensions — from Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s gas storage sites to an escalation in the Middle East conflict and its impact on key shipping routes — put natural gas in focus. Europe depends more than ever on global flows of the fuel, even with the cushion of inventories at record-high seasonal levels.

“Major transit halts in the Strait of Hormuz are a tail risk that could dislocate supply, threatening the EU-27’s robust storage build,” said Patricio Alvarez, a senior industry analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

Earlier this week, Energy Aspects Ltd. said a move by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz was “very unlikely,” adding that a one-month halt to liquefied natural gas shipments from leading producer Qatar would reduce global supply by 6 million tons. That’s nearly a month of western Europe’s LNG imports. 

“Any disruption would hit Asia the hardest, as most Qatari exports are being sent to markets east of Suez,” the analysts wrote.

Europe’s LNG imports are already hovering below seasonal averages as Asian appetite for the super-chilled fuel increased. Energy Aspects lowered its LNG import forecast for the April-October period, the time when injections into underground storage sites take place.

Dutch front-month futures, Europe’s gas benchmark, fell 4.8% to €30.76 a megawatt-hour at a close in Amsterdam. 

–With assistance from Rachel Graham.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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Published: 22 Apr 2024, 05:42 AM IST