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'Volatile period ahead' for gas customers says Vayu report

Gas prices in December were more than 15 per cent higher than for the same month the previous year

WHOLESALE electricity and gas prices in Northern Ireland finished the year at elevated levels, reflecting the under-current of uncertainty which prevailed throughout much of 2017, according to Vayu Energy's annual report.

Gas prices in December were more than 15 per cent higher than average day ahead prices for the same month in 2016, with prices closing 38 per cent higher than the average for the rest of the year. And average day ahead gas prices are up 28 per cent year on year in 2017.

The considerable jump can be attributed to market corrections, according to Vayu' Keith Donnelly, following eight-year lows in 2016, with 2017 prices more in line with most other years.

Last year saw the expected and subsequently realised impact of storage on prices, with the closure of the Rough storage facility leaving the UK without any long range storage options. The Corrib gas field was taken off-line during processing for safety reasons and supply issues throughout the year also impacted the sector.

Mr Donnelly, senior energy analyst at Vayu, added: “If December 2017 is a precursor for the first quarter of 2018, we may be in for a volatile period ahead.

"Wholesale prompt gas prices experienced a major spike the week beginning December 11 after an unplanned shutdown of the Forties pipeline in the North Sea. This exacerbated ongoing supply outages at a time of higher demand due to colder than normal weather.”

He said: “Overall, the outlook for 2018 is largely positive for the global economy and this will have a positive impact on the gas market. Improving financial conditions and supportive fiscal policies look set to continue into the New Year.”

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