European natural gas futures soared Monday after reports the Biden administration was considering curbs on Russian crude imports sent shock waves across commodity markets.
Brent surged to $137/bbl and quickly pared gains to trade near $125/bbl around 0630 ET. The focus is European natgas futures, Dutch gas, which jumped as high as 64% to 335 euros a megawatt-hour — the equivalent of around $600 a barrel of oil.
Chaotic energy markets came after the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NBC this past weekend that the Biden administration is in “very active discussions” with European leaders to restrict Russian oil imports.
Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S, told Bloomberg he’s at a “lost for words” for the latest price action of natgas. “Margin calls and very illiquid and uncertain markets driving this move,” he said.
Bloomberg notes that EU GDP could be slashed by as much as 1% or 2.2% annually should Russia’s natgas flows drop to zero. Even in today’s high price environment, the continent is expected to take a 0.6% hit. To ensure energy security, EU leaders have accelerated renewable energy projects and are also talking with other energy exporters, such as the US, Qatar, Norway, Egypt, Algeria, and Azerbaijan, to meet their natgas needs.
Even though spring is less than two weeks away, heating demand is still elevated, and energy inflation is crushing the pocketbooks of households across the continent. Also, one energy provider ceased to provide heating oil to the parliament building of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo because of soaring prices, newspaper Faktor reported, which means the facilities are currently without heat.
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