Oil extends rally as EU members weigh Russian ban, Houthis target Saudi

FILE PHOTO: A Russian state flag flies on the top of a diesel plant in the Irkutsk Oil Company-owned Yarakta Oil Field in Irkutsk Region
FILE PHOTO: A Russian state flag flies on the top of a diesel plant in the Yarakta Oil Field, owned by Irkutsk Oil Company (INK), in Irkutsk Region, Russia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

March 22, 2022

By Mohi Narayan

NEW DELHI – Oil prices extended gains on Tuesday as some European Union members discussed a potential oil embargo on Russia and attacks by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group on Saudi energy and water desalination facilities sent jitters through the market.

Front-month West Texas Intermediate futures rose $2.28, or 2.03%, to $114.4 a barrel on NYMEX and Brent futures gained $2.89, or 2.5%, to $118.51 a barrel on the Intercontinental Exchange at 0713 GMT.

Both contracts had settled up more than 7% on Monday as the potential for more supply disruptions weighed on the market.

European Union foreign ministers are split on whether to join the United States in sanctioning Russian oil, with some countries including Germany arguing that the bloc is too dependent on Russia’s fossil fuels.

“It seems energy traders are growing more confident that supply shortages are just around the corner,” Edward Moya, analyst at OANDA, said in a note.

Prices are rallying in response to geopolitical concerns both in Ukraine and over attacks at Saudi Aramco sites, Moya added.

“Right now it seems the risks are growing and that could push crude prices higher.”

Saudi Arabia has warned it would not bear responsibility for disruptions to global supply following escalating attacks on its facilities by Yemen’s Houthi movement.

The comments came after the group fired missiles and drones at facilities of the Saudi state oil firm over the weekend, causing a temporary drop in refinery output.

Analysts said that there are additional concerns over OPEC+ output that could exacerbate supply concerns.

“We estimate that the difference between OPEC+ production targets and actual production stood slightly above 800,000 barrels per day (bpd) last month and will rise to a whopping 1.15 million bpd in March,” consultancy JBC Energy said in a note.

Meanwhile, U.S. crude oil inventories were likely unchanged last week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday.

Analysts estimated stockpiles of gasoline fell about 2.1 million barrels last week, while distillate inventories, which include diesel and heating oil, were expected to have decreased by 1.6 million barrels.

The poll was conducted ahead of reports from the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, at 4:30 p.m. EST (2130 GMT) on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Mohi Narayan and Liz Hampton; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Sam Holmes & Simon Cameron-Moore)

View original article here Source