Energy prices surge amid fears of a cutoff of Russian supplies.


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Credit…Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

Energy prices surged Monday as fears grew of a cutoff of Russian supplies as a consequence of the invasion of Ukraine ordered by President Vladimir V. Putin.

Oil prices briefly spiked as high as $138 a barrel before settling back to about $127 a barrel, the highest since 2008. European natural gas prices are even more elevated, with futures on the Dutch TTF exchange hitting 345 euros per megawatt-hour — comparable to oil reaching above $500 a barrel.

Some analysts now say that Russia’s move into Ukraine is likely to have long-lasting implications for commodities markets because Russia is central not only to the energy industry but also to a wide range of agricultural products and minerals. Futures for items like wheat, palladium and aluminum have been soaring.

In addition, as analysts at Citigroup wrote recently, this geopolitical turmoil is occurring at a time when many nations have committed to “undo” energy habits involving fossil fuels established over more than a century within 30 years in order to tackle climate change.

The rupture in markets Monday extended again to stocks. Share prices in Asia fell sharply and Europe’s main indexes were lower, with the DAX in Germany down 3 percent and the Stoxx Europe 600 losing 2.2 percent. On Wall Street, the S&P 500 was expected to fall 1.6 percent when trading starts.

The latest spike in energy prices appears to have been stoked by an emerging effort to embargo Russian energy exports as punishment for the country’s war against Ukraine. There have been calls from lawmakers in Washington to block imports of Russian oil, and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has added to expectations that some sort of embargo is in the works during his recent tour of countries near Ukraine.

“We are now in very active discussions with our European partners about banning the import of Russian oil to our countries while, of course, at the same time maintaining a steady global supply of oil,” Mr. Blinken said Sunday on “Meet the Press” on NBC.

A precipitous drop in oil and natural gas supplies from Russia would create major problems for both industrial users and consumers. Russia is one of the world’s leading oil producers, accounting for one in 10 barrels produced globally, and about 60 percent of the country’s oil exports go to Europe, according to the International Energy Agency.

Cutting off Russian oil would force many refineries that normally process it to find other sources. While oil is a relatively flexible commodity, there are many different grades of crude, and a refiner cannot always substitute one for another. Washington’s sanctions on Venezuelan crude, for instance, have led refiners in the United States to buy more Russian oil as a substitute, raising import levels.

On Saturday, Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, said that it had bought a cargo of Russian crude oil because supplies from “alternative sources would not have arrived in time to avoid disruptions to market supply” Gasoline prices are already high, with the price of a gallon in the United States rising above $4, approaching a record set in 2008. The average price in California was $5.34 on Monday, up 51 cents in the past week, according to data from AAA, the motor club.

Natural gas is less flexible than oil, and Europe is much more dependent on it as a fuel, with Russia accounting for around one-third of supplies in normal times. Current prices do not seem sustainable, analysts said.

“It is so expensive that you are going to drive utilities into steep losses,” said Henning Gloystein, a director at the Eurasia Group, a political risk firm.



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