GAS PRICES HIT HIGHEST LEVEL SINCE DECEMBER Good news is that oil costs have plunged

Wholesale costs for natural gas have hit their highest levels across Europe since December last year threatening a future spike in energy bills, but drivers could soon get further fuel relief through an oil price plunge.

Brent crude fell by more than 3% on Monday – to just below $78 a barrel at one stage – on market speculation that major oil-producing countries in the Opec+ group, which includes Russia and Saudi Arabia, were set to ramp up exports later in the year.

It left the international benchmark trading at levels last seen in February.

The downward shift for oil took place as natural gas costs went the other way on news that key Norwegian export operations had been shut down due to a cracked pipe.

LSEG data showed a 10% leap in the UK contract for July delivery to 90p per therm in the wake of the unplanned shutdown announcement.  That price was last seen at the end of December last year.

It was a similar picture for the main European front-month contract, which also hit a 2024 high as deliveries to countries including Germany also fell.

Norway became Europe’s biggest gas supplier in 2022 as Russia faced an international backlash for its invasion of Ukraine.

Prices have been volatile in recent weeks due to maintenance schedules in Norway coinciding with attacks on Russian infrastructure.