European natural-gas prices continued to soar on November 17 after Germany delayed the approval process for Russia’s controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Germany on November 16 announced it was suspending the approval process because the Swiss-based consortium behind the Russian pipeline needed to form a German subsidiary in order to secure an operating license.
That dimmed hopes the pipeline would be operational in the coming months and ease a European energy crunch caused by a host of factors, including lower-than-expected production from wind and surging demand as economies reopen.
Russia has also been accused of withholding additional supplies of natural gas to Europe through existing pipelines transiting Ukraine in order to pressure the EU to fast track the Nord Stream 2 approval process.
The United States, Ukraine, and several members of the European Union oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline on the grounds that it endangers European energy security. The pipeline would also deprive Ukraine of crucial transit fees.
An unidentified German source told Reuters that the pipeline might not be commissioned until March, when natural-gas demand already begins to ease with the onset of spring.
Prices for the benchmark European natural-gas contract jumped nearly 8 percent on November 17. The contract has risen nearly 60 percent in November, though it is still below the peak set in October.
Rising natural-gas prices are spurring inflation in Europe and sparking fears of power outages.