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Internationale Erdgaspreise: Marktsegmentierung und Transaktionskosten führen zu dauerhafter Preisdivergenz


  • Anne Neumann
  • Micaela Ponce
  • Christian von Hirschhausen


Natural gas is playing an important role in Germany, Europe, and around the globe as a bridge fuel in the transition toward lower-carbon energy systems. In this context, natural gas price development is very important, particularly in relation to its competitor, coal. Up until a few years ago, it was assumed that prices in different regions of the world would converge due to the globalization of natural gas markets. In actual fact, however, the opposite can be observed today, namely marked and enduring divergence between regional natural gas prices in Europe, the US, and Asia. For example, natural gas prices in the US are relatively low due to the shale gas boom, while in Asia, they are four to five times higher. European natural gas prices fall between the two, but also diverge markedly because of the as yet underdeveloped single market. Due to high capital intensity, high transport costs, and specific technical features, a functioning market for liquid natural gas, which would provide the basis for converging prices, does not yet exist. Empirical evidence and an analysis of 500 long-term contracts suggest that this market structure will not change significantly in the foreseeable future. Erdgas spielt als "Brücken"-Energieträger beim Umbau hin zu CO2-ärmeren Energiesystemen in Deutschland, Europa und weltweit eine wichtige Rolle. In diesem Zusammenhang ist die Entwicklung der Erdgaspreise von großer Bedeutung, insbesondere im Verhältnis zum Konkurrenzrohstoff Kohle. Bis vor einigen Jahren ging man davon aus, dass aufgrund der Globalisierung von Erdgasmärkten die Preise in den verschiedenen Weltregionen konvergieren würden. Tatsächlich beobachtet man aber heute eher das Gegenteil, das heißt eine stark ausgeprägte, dauerhafte Diskrepanz zwischen den regionalen Erdgaspreisen in Europa, den USA und Asien. So liegen die Erdgaspreise in den USA derzeit aufgrund des Schiefergasbooms relativ niedrig, dagegen sind die Preise in Asien circa vier- bis fünfmal höher. Die europäischen Erdgaspreise liegen dazwischen, sind jedoch wegen des noch unterentwickelten Binnenmarktes auch stark divergent. Aufgrund hoher Kapitalintensität, hoher Transportkosten und technischer Spezifika hat sich bis heute kein funktionierender Markt für Flüssiggas als Grundlage für eine Preiskonvergenz gebildet. Empirische Evidenz sowie eine Analyse von etwa 500 Langfristverträgen legen nahe, dass sich diese Marktstruktur in absehbarer Zeit auch nicht wesentlich ändern wird.

Suggested Citation

  • Anne Neumann & Micaela Ponce & Christian von Hirschhausen, 2013. "Internationale Erdgaspreise: Marktsegmentierung und Transaktionskosten führen zu dauerhafter Preisdivergenz," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 80(47), pages 26-33.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwob:80-47-4

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    natural gas; international prices; market strukture;

    JEL classification:

    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation


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