Despite Ukraine crisis, energy prices down 5%

Monday 12 May 2014 08.33
The latest Bord Gáis Energy Index stood at 133 in April
The latest Bord Gáis Energy Index stood at 133 in April

Energy prices fell by 5% in April despite events in Ukraine during the month.

The latest Bord Gáis Energy Index stood at 133 last month. The index - a composite measure of electricity, coal, gas and other contributors to energy prices - was over 140 points this time last year

More gas passes through Ukraine on its way to other countries than passes through any other international transit pipeline in the world.

Worries over potential supply disruption did contribute to price spikes during the month but, overall, wholesale gas prices fell 11% in April.

Weather conditions have been much better across northern Europe over the year to date than in the comparable period last year and oil and gas supplies have been firm, according to John Heffernan, gas and power trader at Bord Gáis Energy. 

He said the mild winter left US stocks at 63% full at the end of April compared to 17% the same time last year. This "exceptional" storage overhang is affecting prices. 

The oil element of the index was unchanged as the price of Brent crude oil was unchanged in euro terms. Bord Gáis said that while the uncertainty around the Ukraine crisis helped to support prices, this was offset by steady production from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE. 

It also noted the impact of US shale oil, which continued to produce some "extraordinary" numbers with US proved reserves of US crude oil rising to 33.4 billion barrels - the highest level since 1975.

The coal element of the index fell by 4% as coal prices traded in a tight range of between $77.50 and $76.05.

Meanwhile, the electricity element of the index declined by 14% due to softer gas, coal and carbon prices. Lower wind output in April helped support prices, Bord Gáis noted.

"Traders will continue to watch the situation between Ukraine and Russia closely and the threat by Russia to insist that Ukraine prepays for its gas in advance of June deliveries at prices described by Ukraine as “discriminatory” could still trigger a gas supply issue," commented John Heffernan. 

He said that over half of Gazprom’s gas supplies to Europe went via Ukraine last year.