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LNG; European gas prices rising again!

Natural-gas prices are rising in Europe, boosted by reports of a delayed restart to a major U.S. export plant!

Wholesale gas prices in the northwest Europe jumped almost 10% to 125.50 euros, or about $131, a megawatt-hour. That extends their advance so far this week to 28%. Prices remain almost two-thirds below the all-time high from late August.

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FactSet:LNG price surge chart

Gas markets in Europe slumped in the months after that record. Mild weather, an influx of liquefied-natural gas and a drop in demand enabled the continent to stow away huge volumes of the fuel. Those stockpiles have eased—but not put to bed—concerns of potential shortages and price spikes this winter.

Some angst returned to the market this week after a Bloomberg News report that Freeport LNG has pushed back the restart of its Texas shipping facility.

A fire knocked the huge plant out of action in June, shrinking the pool of LNG over which buyers in Europe and other regions are scrapping. Freeport said in August that the plant would return this month.

Tom Marzec-Manser, head of gas analytics at ICIS, said Europe was importing near-record volumes of LNG in spite of the Freeport outage. Demand, he estimates, is down by almost a third from the same period last year.

Still, Mr. Marzec-Manser said the all clear for this winter couldn’t be called until early March, if stores of gas are still full for the time of year. A cold blast or supply problem before then could send prices rocketing again