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Brexit talks 'impacting' wholesale gas trading

By John Mulgrew

Average wholesale gas prices in Northern Ireland have risen by 42% in the first six months of 2017 based on the same period a year earlier, a report has said.

Firm Vayu Energy said the so-called 'day ahead price' in June is only 1% cheaper than in the same month last year. It also said that Brexit negotiations "continue to add another level of uncertainty" over the trading in gas.

Keith Donnelly, energy analyst at Vayu, said: "Looking ahead to the remainder of the year, prices should remain fairly neutral over the next three months.

"However, Q4 is where the real uncertainty lies. Winter 2017 is currently trading over 20% above the lowest price seen in the last two years. We are entering a winter without any gas in long range storage for the first time since Rough became operational over 30 years ago. The risk now is that the market becomes nervous and reacts to every change in temperature, demand and supply, causing prices to spike this winter and become more volatile."

Wind has played a key role in the energy mix across Northern Ireland, with the potential to meet more than 50% of total demand at its peak.

"Electricity prices in the single electricity market (SEM) had a bullish start to the year," Mr Donnelly said.

"Despite strong wind generation in January, prices were 8% higher than the December average. The main driving force behind the increase was the rising gas market, with gas fired generators most likely being the last facilities in the SEM to set the system marginal price.

"The market trials for the new wholesale electricity market, integrated single electricity market, commence in December and it will be interesting to see what prices could look like under the new market."

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