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Oil Prices Approach $100 a Barrel on Threat of Russia-Ukraine War – Natural-gas prices surge in Europe after Germany halts Nord Stream 2 pipeline

By Joe Wallace

Oil, natural-gas and agricultural prices rose as escalating tensions over the future of Ukraine threatened to disrupt flows of natural resources from Eastern Europe to world markets.

Futures for Brent crude, the benchmark in international energy markets, added 1.8% to reach $97.10 a barrel and earlier climbed to $99.50 a barrel, their highest level since 2014. In Europe, natural-gas prices rose 10% to €80 ($91.65) a megawatt-hour after Germany halted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The submarine pipe linking Russia to Germany has yet to funnel gas to customers of Gazprom PJSC, OGZPY -15.06% but traders worry the state energy company will cut exports via other routes if Nord Stream 2 is canceled.

U.S. natural-gas prices also rose Tuesday, though the move was less pronounced than in Europe. Futures gained 3.3% to $4.58 per million British thermal units.

Price of Brent-crude futures this yearSource: FactSetAs of Feb. 22, 2:09 p.m. ET
Jan. 2022Feb.7580859095$100a barrel

Prices for wheat, grown in large quantities in Russia and Ukraine, rose too. Aluminum and nickel, of which Russia is a big producer, rose in early trading before shedding gains on the London Metal Exchange.

The advance in global commodity markets came as the U.S. prepared to hit Moscow with sanctions over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order for troops to enter two breakaway regions of Ukraine. The White House condemned Mr. Putin’s decision to recognize the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk. Western governments have said a full-scale invasion of Ukraine could be imminent.

On Tuesday, Berlin moved swiftly to stop certification of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Long a source of friction between the German government and Washington, the pipe had been awaiting approval from European regulators before it could carry gas under the Baltic Sea.