Bill Farren-Price

Senior Research Fellow and Head of Gas Research

Bill Farren-Price is a Senior Research Fellow and Head of Gas Research at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. Until early 2023, he was the director of macro oil and gas intelligence at Enverus, a leading US oil and gas data analytics firm. Bill has reported and researched the Middle East energy industry for 25 years, as a specialist journalist and for the past 16 years in research and advisory. Before joining Enverus, he founded and managed Petroleum Policy Intelligence, a consultancy providing advisory to oil trading, investment and research clients, which was acquired by Enverus in 2018. From 2007-10, he led oil research at Medley Global Advisors. His career as a journalist ran from 1993 to 2007, culminating in a stint as editor of the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) in Cyprus. Bill holds a BA from SOAS at the University of London.

Areas of Expertise

Short-term oil and gas markets, OPEC and MENA area upstream oil and gas. Geopolitical risk in energy markets. Consumer energy policy and producer-consumer dialogue

Contact

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                    [post_content] => In this first edition of the Gas Quarterly for 2024 we review the developments during winter 2023/24 on the European gas market and global LNG market and draw conclusions about the outlook for prices and the supply-demand balance in summer 2024.

In pricing terms, the winter of 2023/24 was notable insofar as the price peak arrived in October, driven by geopolitical events and concerns over potential supply disruption, rather than shifts in the physical fundamentals. As the winter progressed, those concerns receded and the bearish fundamentals made themselves felt, bringing the European benchmark price (TTF front-month) down from a peak of over 16 USD/MMBtu in October 2023 to below 8 USD/MMBtu in February 2024.

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                    [post_content] => European gas balances look comfortable heading into the winter on the back of record storage levels. European hub prices have stabilized since April and absent a major supply outage, 100 Bcm of storage stocks at the start of December means there is no prospect of any physical shortage this winter. We expect gas demand to remain subdued through the winter, despite some apparent recovery in industrial and commercial consumption in the second half of 2023. The main drivers of this subdued demand will be low gas use in the power sector given the combined impacts of the weak macroeconomic outlook; a recovery in French nuclear output; and higher hydro and other renewables generation. But limited supply flexibility means there are risks to this outlook and most of those are bullish price. A surge in European gas demand driven by colder weather or curtailment of LNG supplies would spike storage withdrawals, lifting prompt gas prices and requiring higher storage fills in mid-2024.
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                    [post_content] => Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, accusing Qatar of supporting extremism. The measures are of unprecedented severity in modern GCC diplomacy with adverse consequences for Qatar, not least for its reputation as a business and international and regional transit hub and as host for international events, including the 2022 World Cup. While efforts at mediation are underway, it will be difficult to bridge the gap between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and its closest allies. At the root of the dispute is a fundamental difference in foreign and regional policy. Further escalation is unlikely, but the dispute will not be resolved anytime soon - unless Qatar makes some very painful concessions. Therefore, oil and gas markets should prepare for a flow of headline news, which could induce erratic volatility, despite the impact of the current escalation on oil and gas market fundamentals being rather limited. We expect no impact on oil market balances and there is no indication that Qatar’s exports of LNG, oil or NGLs will be impeded, though we could witness some redirection of LNG trade flows. While the impacts of the current escalation on energy markets are likely to be limited, the same can’t be said for the stability of the Middle East. The region is already undergoing a ‘regional’ civil war, which has fragmented countries, created new geographical boundaries, weakened the authority of central governments and increased the power of non-state actors. The current rift within the GCC, if not contained, will only amplify the ‘regional’ civil war, increasing the risk of further fragmentation, more intense proxy conflicts, and higher instability, which, whilst it may not have a direct impact on immediate oil and gas supplies, may well impact the long-term productive potential of the region.
                    [post_title] => Feud Between Brothers: the GCC rift and implications  for oil and gas markets
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            [post_content] => In this first edition of the Gas Quarterly for 2024 we review the developments during winter 2023/24 on the European gas market and global LNG market and draw conclusions about the outlook for prices and the supply-demand balance in summer 2024.

In pricing terms, the winter of 2023/24 was notable insofar as the price peak arrived in October, driven by geopolitical events and concerns over potential supply disruption, rather than shifts in the physical fundamentals. As the winter progressed, those concerns receded and the bearish fundamentals made themselves felt, bringing the European benchmark price (TTF front-month) down from a peak of over 16 USD/MMBtu in October 2023 to below 8 USD/MMBtu in February 2024.

The main driver of this bearish price run was the weakness of European gas demand, which reduced the call on Europe’s marginal sources of gas supply (LNG and storage withdrawals). That weakness in European demand was spread across the main consuming sectors, and reflected a combination of mild temperatures, a lower call on gas-fired power generation, and weak industrial gas demand amid a pessimistic macro-economic outlook.

While the lower European call on LNG had a bearish influence on the global LNG market, the lower call on storage stocks enabled Europe to end the winter with record stocks on 31 March. This, in turn, means that a volumetrically similar year-on-year storage replenishment in summer 2024 will be sufficient to bring European stocks back to full capacity ahead of winter 2024/25.

With Europe’s own production and pipeline imports seemingly set to remain relatively stable in summer 2024, and the extent of storage replenishment clearly signposted, it is likely that Europe’s LNG demand in summer 2024 will also remain similar year-on-year (if not even slightly lower), thus allowing non-European markets to absorb the (admittedly limited) incremental increase in global LNG supply forecast for the coming summer.

This bearish summer outlook for Europe suggests that there will be sufficient LNG to feed China’s ongoing recovery in LNG demand, and the rapid growth in the smaller markets of South-East Asia, while the looser market and lower prices are allowing more price-sensitive buyers to return to the market.

Overall, the past winter was a good example of the European market benefitting from a combined set of circumstances that enabled the market to balance at prices much lower than in winter 2022/23, as it continues to await the ‘wave’ of new LNG supply due to reach the market from 2025/26 onwards. Looking beyond summer 2024, the coming winter of 2024/25 may be the last in which Europe needs to hope for a repeat of favourable circumstances before the supply-demand balance on the global LNG market begins its shift to being structurally looser than it is at present.
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Latest Publications by Bill Farren-Price