ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Oil, natural-gas and grain prices increased significantly as Western sanctions on Russia threaten exports, reports the Wall Street Journal. Futures for Brent crude, which is the benchmark in international oil markets, rose 4.9% to $98.73 a barrel in London trading Monday. Brent was as high as $101.28 a barrel.
OPIS reported that in the first 15 minutes of trading, April West Texas Intermediate (WTI) traded for as much as $99.10 a barrel. April contracts received double digit gains for diesel and gasoline. Yesterday, at about 7:15 p.m. EST, April RBOB was up 10.35 cents a gallon to $2.9776 a gallon, but it previously breached the $3-a-gallon mark, said OPIS. April ULSD was up 11.81 cents a gallon to $2.9239 gallon.
“To put these numbers in perspective, a typical day in the U.S. sees tens of thousands of trucks on the road, hauling diesel and gasoline to various customers. Each of those transports has gained about $1,000 value in the early hours of international trading Sunday night,” writes OPIS.
“Top oil analysts believe that the die has perhaps been cast for the case for much higher prices. Longtime energy economist Phil Verleger noted that the price of oil will be largely determined by ‘game theory’ as opposed to typical fundamentals. Oil analyst Andy Lipow suggested that the poor performance of OPEC+ producers including Angola, Iraq, Libya and Nigeria creates an immediate case for a rise of 15-20 cents per gallon in refined products,” writes OPIS.
The Western sanctions were intended to decouple Russia from the global financial system. Russia’s central bank more than doubled its interest rates, and the ruble has spiraled. BP and Norway’s Equinor said they would exit investments in Russia’s energy industry.
However, European companies continue to buy Russian gas in huge quantities. Over the weekend, pipelines through Ukraine carried that fuel at close to full capacity.
“It’s going to be extremely volatile,” Thierry Bros, a gas analyst and professor at Sciences Po Paris., told the Journal. “Vladimir Putin could at any time decide to reduce supply.”
A key determinizing factor of the oil markets’ future rests in the response from OPEC. Russia has led an allied group of energy producers that has coordinated with OPEC to throttle output and then gradually bring barrels back to market as demand recovered from COVID-19 shutdowns. Analysts expect the combined group, known as OPEC+, to proceed with those plans at a meeting Wednesday.
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