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LONDON: Europe’s gas inventories are rebuilding after winter at the fastest rate on record as the region’s buyers outbid competitors from Asia to acquire as much gas as possible at any price.

Stocks in the European Union and United Kingdom (EU28) have risen by 151 terawatt-hours (TWh) since the start of April and 159 TWh from their post-winter low on March 19.

Storage is filling even faster than during the lockdowns in the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe (“Aggregated gas storage inventory”, GIE, May 17).

Stocks are now at 450 TWh, almost exactly in line with the prior 10-year average and 21 TWh above the pre-pandemic five-year average for 2015-2019.

Europe’s gas buyers have proved willing to pay much more for deliveries in the short term than their counterparts in Asia.

Futures contracts for deliveries in July 2022 to Northwest Europe are trading at almost $100 per megawatt-hour compared with just $68 for deliveries to Northeast Asia.

ASIA GAS STOCKS

Asia’s LNG buyers have been less active than normal and inventories in the region have been allowed to fall compared with the seasonal average.

China does not publish gas inventory levels, but LNG imports have been significantly below prior-year levels every month so far in 2022, according to customs data.

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