Long-term contracts needed to stabilise gas prices: MET

  • Market: Hydrogen, Natural gas
  • 28/03/24

Germany and Europe need more LNG and business-to-business long-term contracts to even out supply shocks and stabilise gas prices, even as demand is unlikely to reach historical heights again, chief executive of Swiss trading firm MET's German subsidiary Joerg Selbach-Roentgen told Argus.

Long-term LNG contracts have a "stabilising effect" on prices when "all market participants know there is enough coming", Selbach-Roentgen said. He is not satisfied with the amount of long-term LNG supply contracted into Germany, arguing that stabilisation remains important even now that the market has "cooled down" after the price shocks of 2022.

Long-term contracts are important for the standing of German industry, Selbach-Roentgen said — not to be reliant on spot cargoes is a matter of global competitiveness for the industrial gas market, he said. The chief executive called for more long-term contracts in other areas as well, such as for industrial offtakers, either fixed price or index-driven.

Since long-term LNG contracts are concluded between wholesalers and producers, the latter need long-term planning security for their projects, which usually leads to terms of about 20 years. But long-term LNG contracts in general do not represent a major risk for MET nor for industrial offtakers in Europe, Selbach-Roentgen said. LNG is a more flexibly-structured "solution" to expected demand drops in regard to the energy transition as the tail end can be shipped to companies on other continents such as Asia if European demand wanes, he said.

Gas demand is not likely to recover to "historical heights" again, mostly driven by industrials "jumping ship", Selbach-Roentgen said. When talking to large industrial companies, the discussion is often about the option that they might divert investments away from the German market as the price environment is "not attractive enough" for them any longer in terms of planning security, the chief executive said. This trend started out of necessity in reaction to the price spikes but may now be connected to longer-term "strategic" considerations, he said. In addition, industrial decarbonisation — as well as industrial offtakers' risk aversion because of the volatile gas market following Russian gas supply curtailments — leads companies to invest less into longer-term gas dependencies in Germany, Selbach-Roentgen said.

In addition, MET advocates for a green gas blending obligation of 1-2pc green gas or hydrogen, in line with legislative drafts under discussion by the German government. This has already met with interest by offtakers, despite uncertainties around availability and prices, and would provide a regulatory framework that allows firms to prepare for the energy transition, Selbach-Roentgen said.


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