Day-ahead gas prices rose to highs of 49p/th in anticipation of reduced gas availability in Norway. Maintenance at the Kollsnes processing plant and the Vesterled pipeline to St Fergus cut overall Norwegian exports to the UK to just 42mcm, the lowest level since June. However, increased use of gas storage and lower Interconnector exports helped the UK gas system adapt to a sharp drop in Norwegian imports. Rough storage withdrawals have been ongoing this month at around 12mcm/day. At that rate the allowed cushion gas will not last beyond January. The Corrib gas field in Ireland has also returned from maintenance, which reduced gas exports to Ireland. Continued above seasonal normal temperatures forecast for the next two weeks are capping domestic gas demand, while very strong wind levels, consistently over 7GW, have reduced the need of gas for power consumption. Longer-dated contracts are marginally higher week-on-week, hovering just below their early September highs. It remains to be seen how the UK will be able to react to a large increase in demand during a cold snap. With limited storage stocks the country will be more dependent on pipeline imports and LNG which could come at a higher cost.
Day-ahead power prices fell across the week as higher wind output, peaking at over 9GW on occasion, continued to pressure the prompt, reducing the share of gas and coal in the fuel mix. Peak demand has risen above 40GW and will rise sharply at the end of October following the clock change. However, Day-ahead prices closed the week around £45/MWh. Front-month prices briefly hit highs of £56/MWh, the highest level since January following concerns over French nuclear plant availability. Following an order from the safety authority the Tricastin nuclear plant has been offline since last month. French nuclear capacity is forecast to rise sharply next month, increasing from 40GW to 60GW by December. However, concerns that the ongoing safety investigation will lead to further shutdowns or delayed restarts are increasing November power prices, at a time when cold temperatures are more likely to lift demand. At present the French nuclear problems remain a short-term issue and price gains are largely limited to the balance of winter contracts.