By Barbara Kollmeyer
European natural-gas prices fell sharply on Wednesday, after a strike was called off by Norwegian oil and gas workers that would have pressured a market already under significant strain from Russia’s war in Ukraine.
August natural gas futures on the Dutch-based TTF trading hub fell 6% to 154.78 euros per megawatt-hour. The ICE U.K. natural-gas contract dropped 17% to 240.50 pence per therm, compared with just over 90 pence per therm a year ago.
Industrial action by offshore Norwegian workers threatened to shut down six natural gas fields, potentially cutting the major exporter’s supply by 13%. The crisis appeared to end on Tuesday after the country’s government reportedly intervened to resolve the dispute over pay.
“Norway plays a vital role in supplying gas to Europe, and the planned escalation (of the strike) would have had serious consequences, for Britain, Germany and other nations,” Labour Minister Marte Mjoes Persen told Reuters .
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February has sent prices of global commodities soaring and many European countries are struggling to build natural gas supplies ahead of winter.
Reacting to sanctions imposed by Western governments over its Ukraine invasion now in its fifth month, Moscow slashed shipments through its Nord Stream pipeline by 60% in June.
Nymex U.S. natural gas futures /zigman2/quotes/210189548/delayed NG00 +1.13% remained elevated, up 2% to $5.645 per British thermal unit, as the energy sector rebounded from a sharp fall for oil prices on Tuesday.