2016 Half Year Naturgy Energy Report

  • Irish wholesale gas prices down 37% in first six months 2016 (euro equivalent) compared to same period in 2015
  • 21% of total electricity demand in Ireland met by wind energy so far this year(Please see below to download full report)

Irish wholesale gas prices on average were down 28% year on year, according to the latest Wholesale Energy Market Report published by Naturgy Energy.  The company, which supplies gas to 20% of Ireland’s industrial and commercial market, states that the drop in prices year on year is due to strong LNG supply and pipeline flows from the North Sea, low demand and overall bearish fundamentals.

The average day-ahead price for gas – the contract for gas delivery for tomorrow – was 1.48c/kWh  (cents per kilowatt hour) in June, compared to 1.31c/kWh last month, an increase of 11%.

Commenting on the outlook for the remainder of the year, Joanne Daly, Senior Energy Analyst at  Naturgy states:  “Volatility returned to the NBP in June due to a number of factors; unplanned North Sea outages, the Rough storage facility being taken offline and Brexit. Volatility tied to these events is likely to continue over the coming weeks.

“Storage levels in particular are likely to be a key driver of costs over the coming months” Ms Daly states.  “Storage fullness is currently at 42.5%, almost 2% above last years levels.  However, these levels are likely to stagnate due to the recent announcement that the Rough storage facility, which accounts for 70% of the UK’s total storage capacity, will be unavailable for injections until at least August 3rd. The Winter-16 contract reacted to this news by climbing by over 3p day on day and is currently trading at 44p.  The lowest this contract traded at was 31.7p, recorded on 20 January 2016.

The prospect of low storage levels is a risk for the winter period and we may see further bullish pressure exerted on the Winter-16 contract and beyond because of this. The market will look to alternatives, such as Norwegian pipeline supply and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), to plug this gap.  Yet in the face of a further Dutch North Sea production cap, as well as uncertainty surrounding LNG deliveries over the summer, even the alternatives are risky”.

Electricity and Wind Energy Update

Wholesale electricity prices on average have been lower year on year, largely due to a decrease in the price of gas as well as a large contribution of power generated from renewable sources. The average wholesale price of electricity for the first half of 2016 was 3.80c/kWh, down 29% on the same period in 2015.

With gas prices and other fossil fuel markets likely to remain volatile in the short-term, this could create some volatility for electricity prices as well.  However, demand over the summer months is likely to be around the lowest expected during the year which should also keep a cap on prices and limit the impact of price volatility from other markets.   The only risk to supply is that generators tend to shut down for maintenance over the summer period which could restrict flexible supply.  Should any increase in gas prices coincide with a drop in renewables as well as high demand, electricity prices are likely to increase as less efficient and more expensive generators may be called on to meet demand.

Wind energy has made a substantial contribution towards overall electricity generation on the island of Ireland during the first half of 2016.  Over 15,141 gigawatt hours (GWhs) of wind energy has been generated since the start of the year. Wind energy supplied over 21% of total electricity demand during the first six months, reaching a peak of 2,683 MW at 09.45 on 28 January 2016 when it met 55% of demand at the time.