European natural gas rose on Wednesday after a two-day slump, as Russia carried out its shutdown of the Nord Stream pipeline, its main artery for natural gas flows to Europe, for three days of maintenance.
The shutdown add to Western worries that Russia is intentionally restricting gas supplies to Europe as leverage in its war in Ukraine, and market participants are concerned that flows may not resume when the maintenance ends.
Separately, Gazprom said it will suspend gas sales to French utility Engie starting Thursday, claiming a disagreement over payments.
Benchmark Dutch futures for October delivery rose ~3.5% to €279.30/MWh, while U.S. front-month October Nymex gas (NG1:COM) trades roughly flat at $9.05/MMBtu.
The European Union is set to beat targets for filling gas storage, but analysts warn the bigger factor for energy security will be whether countries can cut consumption enough to ensure stored fuel lasts through the coldest winter months.
Full gas storage could sustain European countries for roughly three months at best, and stored gas in Germany could meet just 80-90 days of average demand, according to Aurora Energy Research.
If countries fail to actually reduce their use of natural gas, European storage likely would still be emptied by March, even if the weather is not especially cold, according to modelling by data intelligence firm ICIS shared with Reuters.
The European Union is preparing to intervene in energy markets to slow surging power costs.