Wholesale gas price at six-year low

Prices are 40pc lower compared with average January prices for the previous three years (2013-2015), and have reached a six-year low.

Wholesale buyers of natural gas in Ireland include large farmers, industrial users and companies like Tesco, Bulmers, FMC and IBM.

Strong supplies, mild weather conditions this winter and a healthy storage outlook have all pushed the wholesale price of gas down.

This in turn has pushed down the wholesale cost of electricity. The average January wholesale price of electricity in the Irish market is down 1.2pc on December and 18pc compared with January 2015. A bigger contribution by renewable sources such as wind also played a part in the fall.

Suppliers of gas and electricity to homes and small businesses have been heavily criticised for not passing enough of these savings on.

The downward trend is expected to continue. “Bearish sentiment has taken a firm hold of the market with gas prices continuing to experience a significant downward price pressure as a result of continued strong supply from Norwegian and UK pipeline sources in the North Sea,” said Joanne Daly, senior energy analyst with Vayu.

“Overall, there is little fundamentally to suggest any significant shift in prompt prices is on the way. However, considering previous years, it is important to remember that it is still possible for market conditions to change quickly.”

Many businesses around the world are also benefiting from lower oil prices.

The price of a barrel of oil fell to its lowest point in 13 years early last week, slipping to $27 and prompting predictions that it could sink to as low as $10 a barrel.

This is a far cry from the rocketing oil prices of four years ago, when the price of a barrel of oil was around $110. This trend is also likely to continue, experts said.

Crude markets could “drown in oversupply”, sending prices even lower, according to the International Energy Agency, which trimmed its 2016 estimates of global demand for the commodity last week.
In numbers

29pc – Decline in average wholesale gas prices since last January

$27 – The price a barrel of oil fell to last week

95pc of our natural gas currently imported from the UK

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