Energy Spotlight: Gazprom taunts EU with supply pause pushing TTF to record high; oil back to $100/bbl

Fri 26 Aug 22, 4:13pm (AEDT)
A snapshot of the Gazprom Arena, located on Krestovsky Island, Russia
Source: Unsplash

Key Points

  • Australian traders who went long on EU gas futures are likely happy as TTF benchmark hits yet another all time high
  • Price of crude oil is back to $100/bbl as OPEC+ muses supply cuts and global traffic data shows increased road use
  • Volatility in the northern hemisphere likely to remain into 2023 as the world now prepares to enter the Northern Winter on the horizon

Let us start with gas. 

Because US futures didn’t move much since last week, I’m going to focus on the EU natgas futures market, where there’s quite a bit to talk about. 

European Union 

Russia, through its state-owned oil supermajor Gazprom, announced last week that the country will turn off its Nord Stream 1 pipeline for three days at the end of August and into early September. 

Its excuse: maintenance. Usual fare from Gazprom. 

If the Kremlin was seeking to entertain itself by watching panicked EU markets react, well, they got exactly what they wanted. 

EU gas futures hit an all time high this week of EUR321/MWh—which reflects a one year return over 600%.

That all time high is huge in itself, given that the Dutch TTF benchmark has been hitting all time highs for the last two years straight. If Europeans thought their last electricity bill was bad, they aren’t going to like the next one.

That extends to the UK, too. 

For context on how the last three years have changed EU energy markets, take a look at the Dutch TTF natural gas benchmark's 5Y charts
For context on how the last three years have changed EU energy markets, take a look at the Dutch TTF natural gas benchmark's 5Y charts (TradingEconomics)

Context of impending winter cannot be overstated

Worth noting: the upcoming Northern Winter isn’t too far away now, and forecasts on conditions for winter will start to influence trading behaviour. That is what Russia is exploiting to inspire market chaos. 

While a heatwave slams Europe and rivers run dry (which is having its own effects on supply chains, pushing energy commodities up further,) the region also faces the Northern Winter, where the country will need even more energy supplies to fuel heaters during the frosty months. 

Russia is exploiting the fear of a very real human cost by threatening to leave Europe without energy ahead of winter—unlike in Australia, the European winter can be deadly for those without warmth.

Germany’s government has already agreed to turn down the heating in public buildings across winter this year. 

Now let’s turn to oil. 

Brent Crude back to $100/bbl 

For another week, Brent crude stayed closer to $100 than it did to $90/bbl, where it looked like it wanted to stay two weeks ago. Global road data provider TomTom this week revealed traffic levels across the Asia Pacific, US, Canada, and Europe, are on the way back up. 

While this obviously means more fuel into more vehicles, busy roads are also an indicator of increased economic activity, with people hitting the highways and leaving the house to work, seek entertainment and recreation, or transmit family members from point A to point B. 

That in itself is often interpreted as a positive signal for bullish trading behaviour across the board. 

Also driving the price of oil back up is perceptions OPEC+ may cut global production, but, OPEC+ spends a good deal of time saying that.

Brent Crude one week charts (TradingEconomics)
Brent Crude one week charts (TradingEconomics)

BP refinery shutdown 

There is a good chance the shutdown of a BP refinery able to pump out 435,000 barrels of oil per day is factoring into traders' predictions of high demand and small supply. 

A fire broke out at the Whiting refinery in Indiana earlier this week and so far, there is no word from the supermajor on when operations will resume. 

While one 435Kbpd facility may not be much in the grand scheme of things, plant shutdowns are closely watched by oil traders, and what oil traders watch is often more important than what’s actually happening.

Worth noting: prices also faltered ahead of the Jackson Hole speech in the US, but Bloomberg also noted the Jackson Hole yearly event doesn’t actually impact markets as much as event organisers like to say it does. 

Price headwinds

  • Ongoing lockdowns in China, refreshed since another outbreak last week, will likely limit perceptions of oil demand

  • The US has technically entered a recession with two quarters of contracted growth

  • Consumers in the UK and EU are also expecting recessions

Price drivers

  • Global traffic densities increased this week, a positive signal for bullish sentiment on economic activity (and thus crude oil)

  • Geopolitical hostility continues to push up the price of European gas, with knock on effects for international benchmarks as half the planet begins seeking to secure supply for winter

What to look out for next week 


  • Baker Hughes US rig count data


  • EU economic sentiment data for August 

  • EU industry sentiment data for August 

  • EU consumer confidence for August 

  • German inflation rate 


  • Japanese consumer confidence data for August 

  • EU inflation data for August 

  • Indian GDP growth rate data for Q2 

  • Weekly US crude oil stock change data 

  • Energy Information Agency (US) weekly data drop


  • Chinese manufacturing data for August 

  • Australian commodity prices data for August

And what about the Oz majors?

The S&P/ASX 200 Energy Index (aka XEJ) closes the week up 1.50%.

One week returns for Woodside investors are up 11.9%.

One week returns for Santos investors are up 12.3%

One week returns for Beach investors are up 7.62%

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Written By

Jonathon Davidson

Finance Writer

Jonathon is a journalism graduate and avid market watcher with exposure to governance, NGO and mining environments. He was most recently hired as an oil and gas specialist for a trade publication.

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