Wholesale gas prices rocket as freezing conditions drive demand

Freezing temperatures pushed gas demand far above the seasonal norms at the end of February.

The monthly energy report from Vayu shows that average Irish wholesale gas prices increased by 15pc on January 2018.

Wholesale electricity prices saw a 14pc increase month-on-month.

This is likely to lead to new price rises for businesses and households, experts warned.

Energy analyst at Vayu Catriona Walsh said bad weather would increase the likelihood of supply issues for gas and electricity.

“The end of February saw significant increase in prices, as bad weather impacted Ireland and the UK,” she said.

“While March is promised to be a milder month than February, temperatures are expected to remain below seasonal averages, so undoubtedly the weather will continue to have a significant impact on the near curve.

“Since the adverse weather conditions last week there has been a number of outages and if these problems persist, or the system experiences additional unplanned outages, both prompt and near curve contracts have the potential to climb higher again.”

In euro terms, Irish wholesale gas prices increased by 15pc on average this month when compared with January.

Following a bearish start to the year, prices gained 5pc in the opening week of February, before continuing to climb throughout the month.

The end of the month saw the National Balancing Point (NBP) prompt prices soar, as temperatures dropped. This caused a sharp jump in demand.

This meant that what was an oversupplied system for most of the month became seriously undersupplied.

Higher wholesale prices come as a price war has broken out among energy suppliers.

The One Big Switch campaign has done a deal with Bord Gáis that will see those who sign up saving hundreds of euro on electricity and making big discounts on dual fuel.

The deal also applies to existing Bord Gáis customers if they register with One Big Switch, which is free – the first time existing clients are getting the same discount as new ones. Those who sign up can save €217 on electricity and €408 on dual fuel.

Bord Gáis is likely betting it will keep customers once they sign up for the new offer.

Research shows 86pc of consumers do not switch energy provider.

Some 120,000 have registered for free with One Big Switch, which then uses its members to negotiate group discounts.

It comes as waste and energy provider Panda has entered the gas market and announced a dual-fuel deal cheaper than its rivals. Customers who switch to Panda Power for electricity and gas will save €342.

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