Natural gas ETFs gain as Russia cuts off supplies to Poland and Bulgaria
NOTExchange-traded funds linked to natural gas posted gains in European natural gas markets on Wednesday after Russia halted exports to Poland and Bulgaria.
Wednesday, the United States Natural Gas Fund (NYSEArca: UNG) increased by 5.7%. Meanwhile, Nymex natural gas futures rose 6.1% to around $7.27 per million British thermal units.
Natural gas prices jumped on Wednesday as European traders wondered whether Russia’s sudden halt to natural gas exports could be the start of a longer shutdown, with U.S. gas markets higher on bets that producers could ship more liquefied natural gas overseas, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Russia’s Gazprom said it cut exports to Poland and Bulgaria after the two countries refused to pay in rubles. Gas buyers usually pay in dollars or euros, but Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that countries pay in rubles after the currency fell in the face of Western sanctions following the war in Ukraine. European buyers in response called this action a ransom.
While Russia’s latest shutdown is likely to have a limited impact on smaller European markets since many have already started taking steps to reduce their reliance on Russian energy, larger economies like Germany and Italy could suffer from shortages or a spike in prices.
Russia’s move “increases the likelihood of a sharp cut in Russian gas supply to Europe,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy markets consultancy Ritterbusch & Associates, told the WSJ. “That’s why we’re seeing significant gains.”
The ongoing supply problem in Europe helped support natural gas prices in the United States during a seasonally weak period for the market, with demand generally easing in the spring before the summer cools. The increase in US LNG exports to supply Europe has helped support high prices in the country.
“We will likely be operating at or near exported LNG capacity levels for the remainder of this year,” adds Ritterbusch. “The market is more focused on next winter with almost as much buying at the back end of the curve as you see in the short term.”
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