Oil stability, near seven-year high due to tensions between Ukraine and Russia

The sun behind a crane pumping crude oil in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, United States, November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Angus Mordant // File Photo

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LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices stabilized on Monday in swing trade, after hitting their highest levels in more than seven years on fears that a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine could lead to US and European sanctions that would disrupt exports from one of the two countries. The world’s leading producers.

Brent crude was down 11 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $94.33 a barrel by 0910 GMT, after earlier hitting a peak at $96.16, its highest since October 2014.

US West Texas Intermediate crude rose 1 cent, or less than 0.1 percent, to $93.11 a barrel, hovering near a session high of $94.94, the highest since September 2014.

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“Market participants are concerned that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine could disrupt supplies,” said Giovanni Stonovo, commodity analyst at UBS.

He added that the oil market is very sensitive to any news of a possible supply disruption as oil inventories are low and the spare capacity of oil producers is expected to decrease.

Comments from the United States about an imminent attack by Russia on Ukraine have shaken global financial markets.

The United States said on Sunday that Russia could invade Ukraine at any time and could create a sudden pretext for an attack. Read more

“If the movement of forces occurs, then Brent crude will have no problem rising above the $100 level,” Edward Moya, an analyst at Oanda, said in a note.

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“Oil prices will remain very volatile and sensitive to increased updates regarding the situation in Ukraine.”

The tensions come as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, struggle to raise production despite monthly pledges to raise output by 400,000 barrels per day until March.

While geopolitical tensions help add to the bullish view, this oil giant’s cycle is fundamentally driven, said RBC Capital analysts.

“We see a price rally to touch or flirt $115 a barrel or higher this summer,” analyst Mike Tran said in a note.

The International Energy Agency said the gap between OPEC+ production and its target widened to 900,000 bpd in January, while JPMorgan said the gap for OPEC alone was 1.2 million bpd. Read more

“We are noticing signs of tension across the group: seven members of OPEC-10 failed to meet quota increases for the month with the largest deficits shown by Iraq,” JPMorgan analysts said in a note on Feb. 11.

The bank added that the super-cycle is in full swing with “oil prices likely to exceed $125 per barrel as the excess capacity risk premium increases.”

Investors are also watching talks between the United States and Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

On Monday, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said the talks had not reached a dead end, although a senior Iranian security official said earlier that progress in the talks had become “more difficult”. Read more

Brent / gas
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Additional reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafuddin in Lonoden and Florence Tan in Singapore; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell, Kim Coogill and Michael Urquhart

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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