The market is also trying the gauge the impact of an EU proposed price cap of €275 per megawatt-hour on natural gas prices to defend consumers against a steep rise in energy costs. The level, however, is well above the current price, but below last summer's highs when Dutch TTF benchmark gas prices went as high as €300+. The tool will only be used if futures on the Dutch Title Transfer facility exceed €275 for two weeks and the gap between TTF and liquefied natural gas prices is greater than €58 for 10 trading days.
Even at the height of the crisis in the summer, the price didn’t stay above that level for two weeks, suggesting the tool would not have been activated had it been in place then. That led several market watchers to question how powerful the cap will actually be. If approved by EU countries, the cap would be available for one year from January 1.
The announcement about the price cap has nevertheless raised concerns that it may distort price signals and reduce market liquidity while supply could be at risk with suppliers being incentivized to delay sales. Overall a mild start to the winter and strong LNG flows has left inventories close to full across the continent with the annual withdrawal season having started 3 weeks later than normal.
The market maintains a sanguine view on prices this winter with the peak demand month of February only trading €9/MWh above the December contract at €139/MWh. Even the 2023/24 winter from October to March can be hedged below €140/MWh at this point but with the current winter having just started that price will depend on how much gas will be left in storage next spring.