The Impact of Sanctions on Global Energy Markets


Governments and international organizations can exert intense economic pressure on individuals, nations, and corporations using sanctions. Depending on the type of penalty issued and the company or person it is levied against, the effect of sanctions on the oil trading market may be substantial.

  • Sanctions imposed on nations or companies may lead to lower oil exports and production, raising oil prices on the global market. This may be detrimental to countries that rely significantly on oil imports. For instance, if a significant producer like Saudi Arabia were to face sanctions, the rise in global oil prices may put pressure on national economies worldwide.
  • Sanctions may discourage particular groups or people from participating in the world oil market, lowering trading volumes. The stability and liquidity of the market may suffer as a result. Trading prices may become distorted, and market players may find it challenging to complete deals at prices that appropriately reflect the oil’s intrinsic worth if trading volumes decline.
  • If sanctions are implemented, sovereign wealth funds and other sizable state or institutional investors who include oil in their investment portfolios may reassess their oil assets. Decreasing the cash available for oil investments may affect the oil trading market differently.

Overall, sanctions may have a considerable impact on the oil market. Sanctions may cause price alterations, short-term market instability, and long-term oil investment and output reductions.

Sanctions & Oil Trading

Sanctions are a tactic used in the economy to pressure someone or something to change their behaviour or policy. Since oil is an international export and many nations rely on it for economic development and success, this financial pressure is typically applied to the oil trading industry. Governments have used monetary penalties as a form of punishment or to pressure nations to change their behaviour in reaction to actions regarded as being against the rules of international conduct.

  • The United States 2018 sanctions against Iran are one instance of how sanctions are used to affect oil prices. The sanctions were implemented to protest Iran’s nuclear weapons program and its financial backing for specific armed organizations. These restrictions forbid Americans from doing various business with Iran and Iranian companies, including any transactions involving acquiring, transferring, or shipping Iranian oil or petrochemical products.
  • Iran’s oil industry has suffered due to these restrictions because they will unlikely abide by the US-led sanctions, forcing them to concentrate on the Chinese and Russian markets rather than exporting as much oil as before. While this is challenging for Iran, it is also difficult for the markets because the sanctions restrict the oil supply globally, which may increase oil prices.
  • Sanctions often have a considerable effect on the world oil market. This kind of economic pressure can sabotage global supply chains and affect prices in various ways. Due to the potential adverse impact on the world oil market, states should be cautious when imposing sanctions on countries that export considerable amounts of oil.

Sanctions & Supply Chains

As sanctions limit international trade and financial movements, they can considerably impact supply chains. Sanctions often restrict access to particular products and services, slowing down the supply chain and resulting in inefficiencies. In other cases, businesses might need to look for new suppliers to close the supply gap the penalties have created. The implementation of this procedure can be time- and money-consuming. Sanctions can cause financial losses for businesses due to missed profits and increase the price of some commodities due to the shortage they cause. Sanctions generally have a considerable effect on supply networks, which can result in significant financial losses and trade disruption.

Sanctions & Financing Manager

The assessments, investigations, and evaluations of compliance with sanctions and financing are the responsibility of the Sanctions and Financing Manager. This job involves performing background checks for clients and other types of due diligence, examining financial transactions, and monitoring compliance with relevant legal and regulatory standards. In addition, the sanctions and funding manager ensures that company policies and practices are current and in line with national and international laws. This position also advises and updates other departments on recent advancements in the sanctions and funding sectors. The ideal applicant should be well-versed in the rules governing financial transactions and services and the state of the industry as it stands now regarding penalties and financing.

Sanctions & Demand Letters

When one party doesn’t fulfil its contractual obligations, sanctions and demand letters are utilized. Demand letters are typically used to remind the defaulting party of its contractual responsibilities and offer an opportunity to satisfy those commitments before penalties are applied. Sanctions may range from monetary fines to court-ordered remedies. Demand letters and sanctions are robust conflict resolution instruments but should only be utilized when required.

The Impact of Sanctions on Global Energy Markets

Increasingly, sanctions are used to affect global energy markets. Sanctions have evolved into a potent diplomatic and economic instrument that can directly impact global energy markets. Sanctions are typically used to penalize nations or corporations for undesirable political or economic behaviour and to influence countries or entities. Sanctions have been implemented to restrict oil and gas exports, impede technology transmission, and limit access to financial services.

There are numerous ways in which sanctions affect global energy markets. Due to limited access to capital, trade and commerce disruptions, and energy technology transfer disruptions, sanctions can reduce investments in energy initiatives. There may also be a negative impact on oil and gas production, resulting in more incredible energy prices for consumers. In addition, sanctions can result in heightened economic volatility and geopolitical tensions.

The oil and gas industries are especially susceptible to sanctions because oil and gas are essential to the global economy. In addition, the sanctions can deter foreign firms from investing in energy-related projects, impeding technology and production. This can result in unstable energy supplies and increased energy prices for consumers.

In conclusion, sanctions are effective influence instruments in global energy markets. To influence policy and behaviour, sanctions can restrict access to financial services, disrupt technology transfer, and reduce investments in the energy sector. Sanctions can have diverse and highly unpredictable effects on the global energy market, including increased economic volatility, higher energy costs, and decreased energy production.


Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine & Sanctions

Although the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine resulted in little economic retaliation, the much more extensive invasion of 2022 prompted the West to sanction Russia in numerous ways. The initial measures shut off the Russian financial system from the rest of the world by prohibiting Russia’s use of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) system and freezing Russia’s access to its foreign exchange reserves held in Western financial institutions.

Western nations swiftly imposed sanctions on Russian energy exports. The United States banned imports of Russian oil and gas in March 2022, and Europe and Japan ceased importing Russian coal shortly after that. Later, the EU agreed to halt Russian oil imports by sea and planned measures to make it challenging for Russia to transport oil by sea. (See the appendix for a comprehensive timeline.)

History of Growing Dependence

After World War II, Europe became significantly dependent on oil and gas supplies from Russia’s vast reserves for an extended period. This began in the 1960s, when the Soviet Union supplied its allies in Eastern Europe, and continued in the following decades, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The U.S. government opposed this expanding dependence without success. Russia supplied 24.9% of the European Union’s (EU 26) fuel requirements in 2020, including 38.3% of its natural gas requirements (see the first figure below), and energy exports accounted for 14% of Russia’s gross domestic product in 2021.

Natural Gas Prices in Europe Under Pressure

Natural gas prices are under pressure across Europe due to recent market changes. New supplies from Norway, the Netherlands, and Russia have flooded the European market for natural gas, creating a massive surplus of gas. In addition, most of Europe saw warmer-than-normal weather during the first week of December, reducing demand and further dropping prices.

The benchmark NBP (National Balancing Point) gas price in the United Kingdom has fallen to its lowest since May 2017. Prices on the French Gas Exchange, commonly called TRS, have decreased by roughly a third since the beginning of the month. The cost of the German TTF has also drastically reduced since late November and is currently trading at its lowest point since December 2016.

A recent supply increase is partially to blame for Europe’s decline in natural gas prices. Gas storage levels are significantly higher than their five-year norms across Europe following bitterly cold weather in late February and early March. Thus, purchasers are not enticed to lock in long-term supply contracts because gas supplies remain available.

The European natural gas price decreases are also a result of a rise in renewable energy generation. In many nations, renewable energy sources like solar and wind have reduced traditional natural gas consumption, resulting in cheaper pricing. The likelihood of this trend continuing should put the price of natural gas under pressure in the foreseeable future.

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