Gas prices jumped after Russia further cut gas supplies to Germany and other central European countries after threatening to earlier this week.
By Noor Nanji
European gas prices rose almost 2%, trading close to the record high set after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Critics accuse the Russian government of using gas as a political weapon.
Russia has been cutting flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany, with it now operating at less than a fifth of its normal capacity.
Before the Ukraine War, Germany imported over half of its gas from Russia and most of it came through Nord Stream 1 – with the rest coming from land-based pipelines.
By the end of June, that had reduced to just over a quarter.
Russian energy firm Gazprom has sought to justify the latest cut by saying it was needed to allow maintenance work on a turbine.
The German government, however, said there was no technical reason for it to limit the supply.
Ukraine has accused Moscow of waging a “gas war” against Europe and cutting supplies to inflict “terror” on people.
Meanwhile, Poland has said it will be fully independent from Russian gas by the end of the year.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said: “Even now, Russia is no longer able to blackmail us in the way it blackmails Germany for example.”
The UK would not be directly impacted by gas supply disruption, as it imports less than 5% of its gas from Russia. However, it would be affected by prices rising in the global markets as demand in Europe increases.
European wholesale gas prices closed at €204.85 (£172.08) per megawatt hour – the third highest price on record. The all-time high was achieved on 8 March when prices closed at €210.50 (£176.76) per megawatt hour.
However, this time last year the wholesale gas price in Europe was at just above €37 (£31.08) per megawatt hour.
UK gas prices rose 7% on Wednesday so the price is now more than six times higher than a year ago. However, it is still well below the peak seen in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
UK energy bills increased by an unprecedented £700 in April, and are expected to rise again with one management consultancy warning a typical energy bill could hit £3,850 a year by January, much higher than forecasts earlier this month.
BFY said its forecast reflected the increase in wholesale prices over the past few weeks with the ongoing tensions with Russia sparking concerns over winter supplies.
The latest reduction in flows puts pressure on EU countries to reduce their dependence on Russian gas even further, and will likely make it more difficult for them to replenish their gas supplies ahead of winter.
Since the invasion of Ukraine European leaders have held talks over how to reduce its dependence on Russian fossil fuels.
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