Deadly Blast At Austrian Pipeline Hub Slashes Gas Flow To Italy

The blaze has exacerbated concerns in Europe about tight gas supply after several nuclear reactor and gas infrastructure outages and the shutdown of the Forties North Sea pipeline, during a period of high demand due to freezing temperatures.

Analysts believe, however, that there is enough storage to cope with supply for the time being.

"But if supply does not resume soon and the cold weather continues, prices will remain strong through the winter," Wood Mackenzie analyst Massimo Di-Odoardo said. "We might well see some competition between Europe and Asia to attract LNG (liquid natural gas, delivered by ship) this winter."

Slovakia's main gas transit route to Austria was suspended after the fire, Slovak pipeline operator Eustream said. Russia's Gazprom Export said it was working on redirecting gas flows and trying to secure uninterrupted supplies to clients.

In Britain, Europe's biggest gas market, the price of gas for immediate delivery reached its highest level since 2013.

A UK National Grid spokesman said there was sufficient gas supply to meet demand amid multiple outages, underlining the breadth of concern about supply after the Baumgarten blast.

(Additional reporting by Oleg Vukmanovic and Nina Chestney in London, Katya Golubkova in Moscow, Tatiana Jancarikova in Moscow and Massimiliano Di Giorgio in Rome; Writing by Francois Murphy; Editing by Edmund Blair and Adrian Croft)


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