Gas, oil, electricity, coal: soaring prices did not spare any sector in 2021


European gas saw its price multiply by 10 in 2021 (illustration).

The surge in energy prices was general in 2021, with the most spectacular increase being that of European gas, the price of which has increased tenfold compared to the start of the year. Tensions between supplier and consumer countries have played a preponderant role in this phenomenon.

Gas, oil, coal … 2021 saw the prices of energy-related raw materials soar, dragging in their wake those of electricity and carbon. The geopolitical tensions between producing and consuming countries are notably at the origin of the phenomenon.

The price of gas multiplied by 10

The most spectacular surge was that of European gas: the reference price, the Dutch TTF, experienced two major peaks in early October and then mid-December, peaking on the first day of winter at 187.785 euros per megawatt hour (MWh), ten times its price at the start of the year. At the origin of the conflagration: Europe’s dependence on Russia, which supplies the Old Continent with a third of its gas.

Westerners suspect Russia of limiting its deliveries to put pressure on Europeans and obtain success in several cases, including the launch of the new Russian-German gas pipeline Nord Stream 2.

“Unfounded accusations”

, the spokesperson for Russian gas giant Gazprom replied on Saturday.

Moscow and the European capitals are also engaged in another standoff on the border between Russia and Ukraine, where tens of thousands of soldiers are massed. Added to this was a strong recovery in the economies recovering from Covid-19, particularly in Asia, meager stocks at the onset of winter in the northern hemisphere and the limited contribution of renewable energies, in particular due to a little windy weather.

No oil without OPEC

Tensions between producer and consumer countries also fueled the oil market in 2021, after a catastrophic year 2020 for demand, wiped out by the virus. To prevent the rapid recovery in consumption from over-supporting prices and fueling already accelerating inflation, the United States encouraged members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and their allies in the United States. ‘Opep +, including Russia, to open wide the floodgates of black gold.

The group of producers led by Riyadh, which voluntarily limits its production, has contented itself with carefully loosening the taps, month after month. As a result, benchmark crude prices, moving above $ 75 per barrel on December 29, have climbed more than 50% over the past year.

Chain reaction

The high price of oil but especially gas has forced some countries to resort again to one of the most polluting energy sources, coal, while many of them are trying to limit its use in the face of the climate emergency. . The price of a ton of coal in the ports of Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA), for example, reached at the beginning of October 280 dollars, whereas for ten years it had been sailing around 100 dollars.

The increased use of this resource has also translated into a greater demand for rights to pollute, pushing the carbon market to record highs. The price of European carbon exceeded the 90 euro bar at the start of December, a first, while it was barely above 30 euros per tonne at the start of the year.

As for electricity prices on the spot market (spot), they reached new highs at the end of the year, quoting on December 21 more than 450 euros per megawatt hour for delivery next year in France, four times more than early September. This outbreak leaves many consumer industries, such as foundries, destitute.


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