UK Wholesale Spot Gas Prices Jump to Two-Year High on Near Record Demand

By Icis Heren, PRNE
Sunday, December 19, 2010

LONDON, December 20, 2010 - Spot UK wholesale gas prices on Monday jumped above 70 pence per therm -
the highest level in over two years - as gas demand hovered close to record
high levels.

Ongoing freezing temperatures pushed up demand from local distribution
zones, which include residential heating, and meant overall consumption was
33% above normal December levels.

The key Day-ahead wholesale gas contract, the price for gas to be
delivered on Tuesday, traded at 71.50 pence per therm on Monday morning, a
rise of 6.40 pence per therm from Friday. The last time the contract closed
above 70 pence per therm was on 31 October 2008.

Demand reached a record high of 465.80 million cubic metres at 08:03
London time, according to National Grid. But this had fallen to 461.50
million cubic metres by 10:02. National Grid estimates total demand levels
for the day on an hourly basis.

Highest ever demand was 465.5 million cubic metres on 8 January 2010.
Highest demand this winter to date was 456.6 million cubic metres on 2

Despite the rise in gas consumption, there was a surplus of UK gas as
withdrawals from storage sites increased on Monday. Imports through the
Interconnector that connects the UK and Belgium were higher, and there was
also a rise in supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

LNG is gas which is converted into liquid form and can then be
transported by ship to any country which has an appropriate receiving

"The system has coped very well with massive demand levels so far this
winter. We have much more flexibility in our supply now and a rise in prices
encourages gas to come to the UK" said Edward Cox, Editor of European Spot
Gas Markets at ICIS Heren.

National Grid said in a press release it had issued a Gas Balancing Alert
on Sunday as Monday's demand was above the current trigger level of 452
million cubic metres.

Milder temperatures are forecast to return later in the week.

UK electricity prices have weathered the storm rather better during this
cold snap than in late November, when prices reached a 22-month high. But
data from UK market operator Elexon shows that today is expected to be the
second highest demand for electricity this winter, at 59,548MW at 17.00 this
evening, This is close to the highest demand for this winter so far - the
peak was on 7 December at 60,085MW.

A spike in wholesale gas prices also boost the UK electricity market
because the UK relies on gas-fuelled power plants, but more of the UK's
nuclear units are available to generate this month than last. In the 24 hours
to Monday at 11.00, 35% of the UK's electricity generation was provided by
gas, with 18% from nuclear power.

Note to editors:

Gas demand data is taken from the National Grid website. Electricity
demand data is taken from the Elexon website, the UK power market operator.

On Monday morning, Norwegian imports represented around 20% of UK supply.
LNG represented 18% of supply, with storage at 14%. The UK also sources gas
from the North Sea and through the Interconnector and BBL pipes that link the
UK with continental Europe.

The UK has one long-range storage facility at Rough. On Monday morning,
the site had sufficient gas to flow at maximum withdrawals for a further 49
days. This would mean it could be empty by the end of the first week of

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    Edward Cox
    Editor - European Spot Gas Markets
    ICIS Heren
    t: +44(0)20-7911-1772

Edward Cox: Editor - European Spot Gas Markets, ICIS Heren, t: +44(0)20-7911-1772, e: ed.cox at

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