Oil and Gas Prices Soar and Worries Rise About Future Supplies

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The agency said Thursday that “most immediately at risk” was 250,000 barrels a day of oil from Russia that moves through Ukraine to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. That amount is relatively small in a global market that consumes 100 million barrels a day, but it could create problems for those countries.

In terms of natural gas, the question will be whether Russia continues to supply major customers like Germany and Italy or chooses to use the fuel as a weapon in retaliation for sanctions. Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, on Tuesday halted the certification of Nord Stream 2, the new $11 billion gas pipeline linking Russia and Germany, prompting an angry reaction from Russian officials.

If Russia cuts back on gas exports, Europe will try to make up the difference from already strained supplies kept in storage facilities and by scouring the world for more liquefied natural gas. Flows of liquefied gas, mostly from the United States, have exceeded Russian gas volumes to Europe in recent weeks. Such measures would probably help Western European countries like Germany and Italy more than those in southern and Eastern Europe with fewer alternatives to Russian gas.

Even without a clear cutoff of fuel by Moscow or a disruption by war, there is a substantial risk, analysts say, that the extraordinarily high gas and electricity prices that have dogged Europe in recent months will continue indefinitely, squeezing already hard-pressed consumers and, possibly, pushing more businesses to curtail production. In recent months, some energy-intensive businesses, including fertilizer makers, have announced closings because of high gas costs.

The suspension of Nord Stream 2 may be one of the first moves in the reorienting of European economies away from dependence on Russia, but such a big shift involving many billions of dollars of investment will take time.

“You are going to see, certainly, Europe having a much stronger focus on reducing its dependence on Russian energy supplies over the medium and longer term,” Mr. Bronze said. “But that is an incredibly hard ask.”


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