Get free natural gas updates
We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email every morning with the latest natural gas news.
European gas prices jumped on Friday after workers at liquefied natural gas plants in Australia began strikes, stoking fears of a disruption to global supplies.
Prices for TTF, the European benchmark, rose 14 percent to 34.90 euros per megawatt hour ($10.9 per million British thermal units), according to LSEG data. The industrial dispute affects the Gorgon and Wheatstone plants, which account for around seven percent of the world’s LNG supply and are operated by US oil and gas giant Chevron.
The unions say their members will initially launch limited industrial action and stop work for up to 11 hours. If no agreement is reached by September 14th, they plan to stop work completely for two weeks.
The strikes were originally scheduled for Thursday but were postponed by a day. Offshore Alliance, a group representing two unions, said Thursday that talks continued throughout the week but no agreement was reached.
Union members “seek compensation outcomes consistent with industry standards applicable to Chevron’s contemporaries,” the alliance said in a statement.
The escalation contrasts with the situation at Woodside Energy, where an “agreement in principle on a number of issues” was reached with Allianz at the end of August. This helped avert labor disputes at the North West Shelf facilities, which account for about 4 percent of global LNG supply.
Chevron confirmed in a statement that talks had ended without an agreement. “We negotiated in good faith and tried to reach an agreement that would lead to a market-competitive outcome,” the US major said. “The unions continue to seek terms that go beyond comparable terms with others in the industry, including in recent agreements.”
LNG from Australia, a major exporter of the fuel, rarely reaches European shores directly. But a possible disruption to global supplies kept European traders on edge last month.
If buyers of Australian sea gas have to look for alternatives in Asia, they will come into direct competition with Europe, which relies on LNG after Russia cut its pipeline gas exports to the region following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
So far there is little sign of competition, as the EU’s natural gas storage facilities are more than 90 percent full and demand from Asia is not picking up.
“The initial strike action that began today is limited in terms of LNG supplies,” said Tom Marzec-Manser of energy consultancy ICIS. It is estimated that only one or two cargoes of LNG will be withdrawn from the market.
A two-week strike “would take around 1 million tonnes of LNG off the market,” he said, adding: “Even if Europe enters the winter with very high storage capacities, this potential reduction in supply will result in a shortage of what is still very fine balanced global gas market.”
Source : www.ft.com