The Bord Gáis Energy Index rose 5 percent in February to 140, its highest level since September 2008 as falling natural gas, coal and electricity prices combined failed to offset an 11 percent rise in oil prices. The report provided detail on each of the four main energy commodities as follows:
Oil traded just shy of $120 per barrel intraday on February 24, its highest level since August 2008 but retreated in the final days of the month to close February at $111.80 per barrel. Oil prices rose dramatically in the second half of February as the social unrest in Tunisia and Egypt spread to Libya, a major oil producing country. Brent crude prices closed $12 per barrel higher in February as turmoil in Libya lead to reports of production being cut from 1.6 million barrels per day to between 400k and 800k barrels per day. OPEC, and more specifically Saudi Arabia, announced that it would make up the drop off in Libyan production but this has done little to quell market fears that this may mark the start of a sustained period of disruption to oil supplies as social unrest spreads to the Middle East. Saudi Arabia alone supplies 10 percent of global oil.
A steady rise in temperatures, coupled with strong deliveries of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to the UK saw prices trade in a narrow 52p to 55p per therm range in February. Lower demand also helped suppliers conserve natural gas in storage, bringing levels back above their five year average. Record low inventories of gas in storage were seen in early January following the severe weather experienced in December. Italy saw supplies via the Greenstream pipeline from Libya drop but this has had little effect on prices in Northern Europe.
Coal prices stabilised in a $118 to $122 per tonne trading range in February after hitting highs in the $130s earlier in the year on the back of record breaking floods in the coal producing areas of Queensland, Australia. However, high stock levels in Europe along with the approach of spring gave confidence to the market that supply outlook would continue to improve.
The record for wind generation was broken during February. The new record stands at 1,284MW. Power generation capacity exceeded demand comfortably during the month. The mild weather seen in February contributed to an overall drop in system demand. As a result of this high volume of wind generation and a drop in demand, SMP prices fell €4 from January to February.