German and Italian natural gas futures listed on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) hit fresh highs in May amid a scramble in Europe to secure supplies in the months since Russia invaded Ukraine. 

European benchmark Title Transfer Facility futures saw 2.8 million lots traded last month, up 5% from April. ICE added that German Trading Hub Europe futures trading hit 13,500 lots, with  open interest reaching a new high of 31,030 lots on May 20. Open interest is the number of outstanding derivative contracts that serves as indication of trading activity.

Meanwhile, nearly 11,000 lots of Italian Punto di Scambio Virtuale (PSV) gas futures were traded. PSV open interest hit a new high of 23,089 lots on May 27. 

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Meanwhile, Europe’s push to secure additional liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies also increased volume in the LNG freight futures contracts listed on the exchange that were launched last year

The Spark30S Atlantic contract saw six monthly lots of 3Q2022 transacted, taking volume to more than 100 lots. The contract is based on LNG freight spot price assessments by Spark Commodities and allows market participants to manage price risk for round-trip voyages between the U.S. Gulf Coast and Northwest Europe. 

Most U.S. LNG has been delivered to Europe this year as the continent looks to refill storage inventories ahead of winter and displace Russian supplies. That’s created sharp spikes in the rates to charter vessels. 

Japan-Korea Marker futures volumes reached 32,292 lots, up by roughly a third from April’s figure. Trading of the Asian LNG benchmark has been slower this year as buyers in the region have been less active due to higher spot prices and stronger inventories.

In North America, ICE said Henry Hub futures volumes were again strong in May at about 9.5 million lots traded during the month. Futures volumes from January through May were up 35% compared to the same period last year. 

Henry Hub open interest dipped slightly from the end of April to roughly 6.3 million lots. However, that is up by 200,641 lots from the end of May 2021.