Benchmark European gas futures rose as much as 8.7% to 91.34 euros a megawatt-hour and the U.K. equivalent increased as much as 7% to 226 pence a therm.
While any action against the Russian gas link can stoke supply concerns, the sanctions probably come too late as construction of the pipeline was finished in September, the first of two lines are already filled with gas and the U.S. has levied penalties aimed at the project before, which has progressed regardless.
In August, the U.S. sanctioned two Russian entities over their involvement in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and a ship that was involved in the link’s construction. The move had a limited impact on European gas prices at the time and analysts say these new penalties probably won’t push futures higher over the longer-term either.
“I don’t think that these new sanctions will have an impact on gas prices as they cannot change the fact that the pipeline has already been built,” said Katja Yafimava, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
The Biden administration is obliged to send a sanctions report to Congress every three months and the action against a ship that’s understood to be Russian was expected, she said. The U.S.’s decision not to penalize another vessel, which is affiliated with the German government, shows the White House doesn’t want to antagonize Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration.
Even so, the start of commercial operations suffered a setback last week after the German energy regulator suspended the certification process for the Swiss-based pipeline operator, a move that pushed European prices 15% higher.
The U.K. has seen gas supplies entering its network soar this week, easing short-term supply concerns. Carbon permits under the European Union’s emissions-trading system notched lower from Monday’s record high, easing the pressure slightly on cleaner-burning fuels such as gas.