Russia's Ukraine war upended energy markets forever

Russia’s Ukraine war upended energy markets forever

Illustration of a tank with an erratic line chart shooting out.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Nearly a yr after Russia’s invasion, the Ukraine disaster has completely reshaped the worldwide energy system and introduced extreme financial ache.

Why it issues: The worst-case situations have not come to cross, due to a mixture of EU insurance policies, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s miscalculations and pure luck. But the affect is obvious on each aspect of the market, from pure gasoline to grease to low-carbon energy.

Driving the information: Europe’s heavy dependence on Russian gasoline, which as soon as offered 40% of EU provides, has been quickly severed. Now it solely accounts for about 14.4% of EU provides, per S&P Global Commodity Insights.

  • “Russia’s days as an energy superpower are ebbing away,” distinguished energy historian and analyst Dan Yergin mentioned.

How it really works: European gasoline costs soared to file ranges, however have since fallen again to below pre-war levels. That’s partly due to extra provides from the U.S. and elsewhere, nevertheless it’s additionally due to planning.

  • European nations have made strikes to sever ties with Russian coal, oil and gasoline and diversify their provides, preserve energy and fill gasoline storage services.
  • That effort has additionally prompted EU officers to speed up and scale up efforts to deploy low-carbon tech like renewables and warmth pumps. (There was additionally some short-term switching to carbon-intensive coal, due to the gasoline value will increase and provide crunch.)
  • Luck was additionally an element, with unusually delicate climate that has minimize heating demand.
  • “Widespread shortages, which had been as soon as legitimately feared, haven’t materialized,” writes Financial Times energy editor David Sheppard in a column titled “Vladimir Putin is dropping the energy war.”

What they’re saying: Analysts say Putin misjudged his potential to wield Russia’s large gasoline and oil exports to Europe as a geopolitical weapon.

  • A Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) report notes that Putin, in reducing gasoline shipments, was “hoping financial ache would break European and transatlantic resolve to assist Ukraine.”
  • Yergin tells Axios that Putin’s “level of most leverage is previous” now that Europe has diversified provides and stuffed storage ranges.
  • “He thought that Europe’s dependence on Russian energy could be so nice that the Europeans would, on the finish of the day, deplore what occurred [in Ukraine] however stand apart,” he mentioned in an interview.

Yes, however: The disaster introduced extreme financial ache to Europe, hammering customers and energy-hungry industries, and past. For occasion, CSIS notes that European fertilizer manufacturing, which requires giant quantities of pure gasoline, has fallen 70%.

  • More broadly, it has helped push up energy costs in every single place, hurting economies worldwide as a result of increased industrial and agricultural enter prices, boosting meals costs that particularly damage poor nations.

Between the strains: When it comes to grease, Europe’s just lately imposed prohibitions on seaborne Russian crude and the G7-led “value cap” meant to curb Putin’s revenues are resulting in elevated Russian barrels flowing to China and India.

  • On gasoline, “Europe’s shift from Russian gasoline to different provides has dramatically and completely modified world gasoline commerce and energy markets,” CSIS writes.
  • The reordering of the worldwide energy commerce is in the end coming at Russia’s expense, even because the war has spurred commodity value will increase that battered economies worldwide during the last yr.
  • The International Energy Agency, in a report final fall, considerably minimize its projections of Russian gasoline and oil exports this decade as a result of not all the exports that used to go to Europe will discover a new house.
  • Also, whereas oil costs stay elevated, the preliminary value surge attributable to the war has retreated. Brent crude briefly jumped to over $130 per barrel in early March when the scope of the battle and response had been much less understood.

The intrigue: Europe’s flip away from Putin has elevated the geopolitical significance of U.S. exports of liquefied pure gasoline, which helps to fill Europe’s lack of Russian provides. “Energy safety in Europe — and globally — now rests on U.S. pure gasoline exports,” CSIS notes.

What’s subsequent: IEA’s newest oil market evaluation this month calls Russia certainly one of two “wildcards” that may “dominate” the worldwide oil market in 2023.

  • The different is China, the place COVID restrictions — or the dearth of them — have an effect on energy markets as a result of they’re the most important oil importer on the planet.