LONDON, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Benchmark European and British wholesale gas prices soared to record highs on Tuesday as Russian gas shipments to Germany through a major transit pipeline reversed direction and colder weather increased demand.
The British gas contract for day-ahead delivery TRGBNBPD1 was up 24 pence at 4.00 pounds per therm by 0933 GMT, marking a new record.
The benchmark Dutch front-month contract TRNLTTFMc1 was up 10 euros at 157.40euros/MWh, having touched a record 160.75 euros.
The British front-month contract TRGBNBPMc1 was up 23.25 pence at 3.96 p/therm, having hit a record 4.00 pounds/therm earlier on Tuesday.
Westward flows through the Yamal Russia-Europe pipeline had been falling since Saturday but the reversal of direction, sending flows away from Germany, stoked supply fears and pushed contracts to record highs, traders said.
On Tuesday flows at the Yamal Mallnow metering point on the German-Polish border turned eastwards, operator Gascade said. It had earlier logged requests for eastward flows at an hourly volume of more than 1,250,000 kilowatt hours (kWh/h) for the rest of Tuesday.
“It's very painful ... the only respite we can hope for is wind (power), nuclear to actually come back as planned and not keep pushing back a week or two,” one gas trader said.
Gas demand from power stations has risen to replace electricity generation lost from several French nuclear reactors currently offline for maintenance or shut down because of technical problems.
Temperatures are also poised to fall over the next few days, increasing demand for gas for heating.
Analysts at Refinitiv forecast British local distribution zone (LDZ) demand, which is primarily used for heating, at 240million cubic metres (mcm)/day for Tuesday and 261 mcm/d for Wednesday.
The forecasts were up by 18 mcm and 24 mcm respectively from previous expectations.
The European benchmark December 2021 emission allowance (EUA) contract CFI2Zc1 was up 2.06 euros at 82.15 euros a tonne.
(Reporting by Susanna Twidale Editing by David Goodman )
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