Commodities prices on the up: prepare for new challenges in the European Power Market

At the time of writing, Brent Dec18 contract is trading at $85/bbl, its highest price in 4 years. Gas is following the same pattern and reaching historic values. In one year, its price has increased by more than 60%. Coal (API#2 month ahead contract), rising to $100/Tn, while far from its all-time record, has also reached historically high levels. As for CO2, EUA Dec18 contract is verging on the €22/Tn mark. With underlying commodities at this level, the price of electricity has reached €62/MWh for the France baseload 2019 delivery, a long way from the €38/MWh traded for this same product last year. Bad news for consumers. Energy purchases will weigh heavily on the budget for all consumers, industrial players and individuals. So, what´s going on’?

As Ph. Lamboley explains in his article (Soaring energy prices: thank you Donald Trump!), the price of Brent is the result of the current geopolitical tensions (largely sparked by US President Donald Trump). While the IEA (International Energy Agency) forecasted long-term prices in the range of $40/bbl to $60/bbl, with American shale oil production playing the part of global buffer, we’re seeing prices of $85/bbl today, with some analysts arguing that the $100/bbbl barrier will soon be reached. The embargo on Iran, the crisis in Venezuela, the slow take-off in Iraq, Saudi Arabia’s struggle to push its production beyond 10.5 m b/d, and sustained demand levels have all led to this spike in prices.

Gas is being massively absorbed by Asia. Environmental problems in China and the slow start of nuclear power in Japan are contributing to the increase in demand in this part of the world.

Coal prices are more difficult to interpret (The dark (side) strikes back?), as they are being driven up by the growing demand for global primary energy, particularly in Asia-Pacific countries. But, within the recent context of increasing global coal production, this price growth could brutally be tempered. Any case, the influence of coal prices in the construction of OECD energy costs remains dominant, contrary to all expectations.

As Ph. Boulanger clearly states in his article (CO2: The return), following the most recent reforms, CO2 (EU–ETS) is back on track and aligning with the expected prices for the next Phase. For an effective reduction in CO2 emissions to occur, its price must not be any lower than €30/Tn. The latest reforms in the emissions certificates market (EU-ETS) are trying to set the tone, which leads us to believe that prices will continue to follow the current upward trend.

Finally, to further complicate things, and as far as electricity prices are concerned, this time around it’s Belgian nuclear power that’s sparking short-term uncertainties (in early winter this year, only one of seven existing units will be available), putting Continental power prices under stress. This explains the FR Baseload Q1 prices reaching €77/MWh, when this same product was being traded at €50/MWh a year ago. In the medium and long term, everything indicates that there are new market tensions to come: the ongoing delays in the commissioning of the Flamanville EPR; the final decommissioning of Fessenheim; some German coal-fired power stations being placed into strategic reserve; the dismantling of French coal-fired power stations before 2022; the disappearance of peakers (The French PPE (multi-year energy programme) and the future of the electricity market); etc.

As we already mentioned in our January 2017 issue (approvisionnement-2017-casse-tete-chinois-pour-les-acheteurs-delectricite) [in French], the tides have turned. The stable and surprisingly low energy prices that we’ve been enjoying for a long time had to lead to higher prices in order to adapt to the market’s equilibrium. The pendulum swung too far out, and, in the course of a few months, we’ve found ourselves facing energy prices at historically high levels. We can certainly sense these changes in the global markets, but they remain unpredictable. Who could have predicted a few months back President Trump’s international policies and their effects on the energy sector?

Our editorial concludes in much the same as we had recently stated: Accurate forecasting and risk coverage are essential in this volatile environment. As we usually explain to our customers, it’s not just important to stock up inexpensively; it’s also necessary to have a certain degree of visibility on the supply needs and, above all, to limit the fluctuations of the company’s performance that are caused by the variations in the cost of energy. Nobody has a crystal ball that can predict market fluctuations. However, it is possible to predict the impact on the profit and loss account of the energy supply line and to make the appropriate decisions. The role of the energy purchaser must evolve into that of an energy manager so as to ensure the readability of the company’s energy costs.

Antonio Haya

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Each month, one of our experts publishes an article describing his view on a specific topic of the constant changes taking place in the energy market, with special focus on the French market.

Profesional Experience

Céline, a young and dynamic person, had a first experience in the tourism sector as a community manager at Loups du Gévaudan, in Lozère. She joined HES team in November 2021 to diversify her knowledge: learning about the energy sector, specialising in marketing strategies in order to improve the company’s customer relations and, at the same time, developing her skills in coordination and project management.


Céline graduated in Spanish and English Language, Literature and Civilisation at La Sorbonne IV (2018). She also holds a master’s degree II in cultural projects and establishments management, with a special focus on international tourism. She also studied abroad at the University of London (England) and Universidad de Morón (Argentina).

Céline Haya Sauvage

Marketing Responsible


Investment Advice

“Decarbonization of the Energy and Transport sectors is arguably today’s main economic driver for the industry.”

Profesional Experience

His career started in civil engineering as a Project Manager in France, Martinique and Australia. Afterwards, he became the General Manager of a subsidiary in Venezuela. In 1992, he established Dalkia in Germany (district heating, cogeneration, and partnerships) and represented Véolia in Thailand. In 2000, he opened the commercial office of Endesa in France to take advantage of the liberalized retail market. From 2006, as a development Manager at Endesa France, he led Endesa’s plan for Combined Cycle generation in France and developed the wind and PV portfolio of Snet at the same time. Philippe Boulanger worked for 3 years at E.ON’s headquarters coordinating the company´s activities in France. He was strongly involved in the French hydro concession renewal project. As a Senior Vice President – Project Director at Solvay Energy Services from April 2012 to February 2014 he was in charge of the H2/Power to gas and European direct market access deployment projects. Philippe has been an HES expert since 2014.


Philippe Boulanger holds engineering degrees both from the Ecole Polytechnique and the Ecole Nationale des Ponts & Chaussées (France) and has a combined experience of more than 25 years in energy and infrastructure. In addition to English, Mr. Boulanger is fluent in French, German & Spanish.

Philippe Boulanger

Electricity Expert


“The world is changing. New investors pay particular attention to the energy sector while historical actors adapt their position to the market.”

Profesional Experience

Antonio started his career in the electricity sector in 1991 working as a member of staff for the General Manager of Sevillana de Electricidad (Spain). In 1997, he was in charge of the commercial regulation at Endesa Distribution. In 2000, he joined Endesa’s European M&A department. He was appointed CEO of Endesa Power Trading Ltd in 2003. He became Head of Energy Management for SNET, France, in 2004 and was appointed CEO of this company in 2008. In 2009, he held the position of Head of Corporate Development for E.ON France. In 2011, he founded Haya Energy Solutions (HES), a consulting firm which assists companies in optimizing their value chain: from strategy definition to day-to-day operations, based on a strong experience and understanding of the energy industry. From 2015 to 2018, Antonio was Chairman and CEO of 2 French CCGTs (2x410MW), owned by KKR. At the end of 2018, he joined Asterion Industrial Partners, a dedicated infrastructure investment fund, as an Operating Partner.


Antonio graduated from the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros of Seville (Spain) and holds an MBA degree from Deusto University (Spain).

Antonio Haya