Russia’s energy crisis is getting worse, and so are Europe’s costs

Benchmark European natural gas prices soared 28% on Monday morning to €274 ($272) per megawatt hour – the first day of trading after Russian energy giant Gazprom halted flows through the vital Nord Stream 1 pipeline indefinitely, claiming that he had found an oil leak in a turbine.
Last year, the pipeline delivered about 35% of total Russian gas imports to Europe. But since June, Gazprom had reduced flows along Nord Stream 1 to just 20% of its capacityciting maintenance issues and a dispute over a missing turbine caught in Western export sanctions.

Moscow’s decision not to reopen the pipeline on Saturday fueled concerns that the European Union could run out of gas this winter, despite a successful effort to fill storage tanks. Similar fears in the UK sent wholesale natural gas futures up more than a third on Monday.

News of Friday’s indefinite pipeline shutdown sent the euro plummeting below $0.99 Monday — it’s lowest level for 20 years. The pound hit $1.14, its lowest since 1985, as traders worried about the toll a potentially drastic energy shortage could take on regional economic activity and government budgets.

Some countries are preparing to spend big to try to limit the pain.

On Sunday, the German government announced a 65 billion euro ($64 billion) relief package to help households and businesses cope with soaring inflation. GermanyEurope’s largest economy, is particularly dependent on gas exports from Russia to power its homes and heavy industry.

Together with the previous measures, this brings the total amount of government support to 95 billion euros ($64 billion), or about 2.5% of German GDP, Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg, said in a note. of Monday.

Liz Truss, who goes succeed Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister this week, is under huge pressure to announce more aid to households and businesses energy bills are skyrocketing.
Why UK energy prices are rising much faster than in Europe
According to a report by The Sunday Timeswho cited unnamed sources within the country’s finance department.
If so, it would exceed the country cost pandemic leave planin which the government subsidized workers’ wages to prevent mass layoffs, by around £30 billion ($34 billion).

Prepare for winter

For months, the European Union has been strengthening its energy reserves for the colder months, when consumption increases, as it fears that Russia will further reduce its gas supply.

Already, Moscow has stopped sending gas to several “unfriendly” European countries and energy companies because of their refusal to pay for gas in rubles, as the Kremlin insists, rather than the euros or dollars indicated in the contracts.

Friday’s Nord Stream 1 announcement came just hours after G7 countries have agreed to cap the price at which Russia can sell its oil in an effort to limit the revenue the Kremlin uses to fund its war in Ukraine.
A spokesperson for Siemens (GCTAF)the German manufacturer of the allegedly faulty Nord Stream 1 turbine said on Friday that an oil leak was not “a technical reason to stop operation”.

“Regardless of this, we have already repeatedly emphasized that there are enough additional turbines available at the Portovaya Compressor Station to keep Nord Stream 1 running,” the spokesperson told CNN Business.

As the energy stalemate intensified, EU countries quickly filled their gas storage facilities. Stores are now filled to 82% capacity, according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe – exceeding the 80% target authorities set for countries before November.

“Despite a serious risk of energy shortages, we still expect most of Europe to get through the cold season without having to shut down significant parts of industry through large-scale rationing of supply. in gas,” Schmieding said in his memo.

European leaders know, however, that they must do more to avoid widespread difficulties and limit the fallout from a recession. EU energy ministers hold an emergency meeting Friday to discuss plans to shield Europeans from the worst of energy price hikes.
Initial ideas include a mechanism that decouples electricity prices from wholesale natural gas prices and an emergency credit offer for energy companies at risk of bankruptcy, according to draft documents seen by Reuters.

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