Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's wholesale gas prices 'third higher than last year'

Wholesale gas prices in Northern Ireland are a third higher than a year ago, energy analysts have said.

Closure of the UK's largest storage facility is expected to push costs higher next winter, Vayu added.

Its senior energy analyst Keith Donnelly said: "The announcement that the rough storage facility in the UK will close until April 2018 will impact gas wholesale prices for next winter.

"Research has shown that, when operational, the rough storage facility reduces the levels of volatility in the market.

"Volatility can have a significant impact on Northern Irish businesses and we have seen many of our customers taking advantage of current winter prices to insure themselves against this potential threat."

He said the increased prices were a return from what was an unsustainable low that the market could not continue to operate at.

"The weaker pound over the last 12 months has exacerbated the dramatic increase, particularly in relation to electricity.

"If sterling continues its recent form and strengthens, then Northern Irish businesses would benefit in the form of cheaper electricity."

Wholesale gas prices are 34% higher on average this month compared with April 2016.

Prices recovered from a year that witnessed multi-year price lows and unsustainable levels that producers, and the market in general, could not operate at, Mr Donnelly added.

"Prices over the last two months seem to have found a natural floor and the resistance to push lower may be difficult to break."

Costs are currently being supported by below normal temperatures and some cuts to production due to maintenance.

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