Global Gas Markets Heading Towards a Price War?

According to the Financial Times, after the price war in the oil markets, the global gas markets might be heading to a price war too. For the natural gas market Russia is what Saudi Arabia is for the oil markets. Russia has a spare capacity of approximately 100 billion cubic meters of gas per year, and Russia is one of the lowest cost producers of natural gas, in the same way that Saudi Arabia has a large spare capacity of oil production and is one of the world’s lowest cost producers of oil.

According to the Financial Times, Gazprom, the Russian state-owned giant, might have to cut prices in order to defend her market share in Europe. Gazprom can deliver natural gas to Germany at a price of 3.5 per mmbtu, while the break even price for the American gas would be 4.3 per mmbtu. Therefore Gazprom might have to do what Saudi Arabia did in the oil markets to keep American gas out of Europe.

Map US LNG.JPG

That explains why the European Union put so much pressure on the Americans, in order for the Americans to lift the ban on oil and gas exports to Europe. As you can read at the following Wall Street Journal articles, the European Union was asking the Americans to allow the export of oil and gas to Europe, and the American congress lift the 40 year ban on such exports on December 2015. I guess what the Europeans really want is not to buy the American gas and oil, but rather they want the Russians to keep their prices low, and also to have an alternative in case Russia threatens to cut gas supplies to some European countries. I guess they will also buy some American gas but their major concern is to buy the Russian gas and oil at a lower price.

The Americans banned oil exports in 1973, after the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, after the international oil cartel (OPEC) decided to stop selling oil to the United States, due to the US support to Israel. The international oil cartel did the same to Portugal and the Netherlands. Portugal and the Netherlands were the only two European countries that allowed the US to use their military bases in order to send arms to Israel. See the following article from the American Ministry of Foreign Affairs (State Department). “Oil Embargo, 1973–1974”

https://history.state.gov/milestones/1969-1976/oil-embargo

Until now the US was exporting oil and gas only to countries that had signed with the US some form of free trade agreement i.e. mainly Mexico and Canada, from whom however the US imports a lot more than it exports.

For the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal Articles see

“Global gas market braced for price war”, February 2016

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/c9c44750-ca50-11e5-a8ef-ea66e967dd44.html?ftcamp=crm/email/201624/nbe/CompaniesBySector/product#axzz3zBIMz25l

“EU Wants U.S. to Lift Ban on Oil Exports”, May 2015

http://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-wants-u-s-to-lift-ban-on-oil-exports-1431885401

“Congressional Leaders Agree to Lift 40-Year Ban on Oil Exports”, December 2015

http://www.wsj.com/articles/congressional-leaders-agree-to-lift-40-year-ban-on-oil-exports-1450242995

“How Exporting U.S. Liquefied Natural Gas Will Transform the Politics of Global Energy”, November 2015

http://blogs.wsj.com/experts/2015/11/17/how-exporting-u-s-liquefied-natural-gas-will-transform-the-politics-of-global-energy/

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