Oil Prices Steady as Attacks on Russian Energy Facilities Intensify

March 18, 2024, 08.23 PM | Source: Reuters
Oil Prices Steady as Attacks on Russian Energy Facilities Intensify

ILUSTRASI. Brent crude briefly moved above $86 per barrel on Monday for the time since November.

OIL PRICE - LONDON. Brent crude briefly moved above $86 per barrel on Monday for the time since November, before pulling back, as Ukraine stepped up its attacks on Russian energy infrastructure.

Brent crude oil futures for May delivery were up 23 cents at $85.57 a barrel at 1239 GMT.

The April contract for U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 21 cents at $81.25, in slow trade with the contract set to expire in the coming days. The more active May delivery contract traded up 27 cents at $80.85.

"The strikes on Russian refineries added $2-$3 per barrel of risk premium to crude last week, which remains in place as we start this week with more attacks over the weekend," said Vandana Hari, founder of oil market analysis provider Vanda Insights.

Over the weekend, drone attacks caused fires at the Rosneft-owned Syzran oil refinery and at a private Slavyansky oil refinery in the Krasnodar region.

Overall, a Reuters analysis found the attacks have idled around 7% of Russian refining capacity in the first quarter.

Amid refinery outages, Russia is set to increase oil exports through its western ports in March by almost 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) against the monthly plan to 2.15 million bpd, market participants said.

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The main focus this week is also on the fate of monetary policy in major economies, with many central banks having held on to high interest rates over a protracted period to quell sticky inflation.

The outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day meeting that ends on Wednesday should bring clarity on the timing of interest rate cuts, said Tony Sycamore, a market analyst with IG.

The Fed will likely keep rates unchanged this month, while the possibility of an interest rate cut at the June meeting "is now a coin flip," Sycamore said.

Lower interest rates could stimulate demand in the U.S., the world's biggest oil consumer, supporting oil prices.

Both oil contracts posted gains last week, with prices hitting their highest level since November, buoyed in part after the International Energy Agency strengthened its 2024 demand outlook for the fourth time since November.

On the supply side, Iraq said on Monday it planned to reduce its crude exports in the coming months by roughly 100,000 bpd from last month's levels, to compensate for any rise above its OPEC+ quota in January and February.

Iraq has committed to voluntary cuts agreed with the OPEC+ group of oil-exporting countries, which were recently extended into the second quarter. 

Editor: Wahyu T.Rahmawati

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