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Picture: 123RF/PAN DENIM
Picture: 123RF/PAN DENIM

Singapore — Oil prices gained slightly on Wednesday after EU leaders agreed to a partial and phased ban on Russian oil, and as China ended its Covid-19 lockdown in Shanghai.

Brent crude for August delivery was up 28c, or 0.2%, at $115.88 a barrel at 3.38am GMT. The contract settled down 1.7% on Tuesday.

The front-month contract for July delivery expired on Tuesday at $122.84 a barrel, up 1%.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 30c, or 0.3%, to $114.97 a barrel.

Both benchmarks ended May higher, marking the sixth straight month of rising prices.

EU leaders agreed in principle on Monday to cut 90% of oil imports from Russia by the end of 2022, the bloc’s toughest sanctions yet on Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine three months ago, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.

Once fully adopted, sanctions on crude will be phased in over six months and on refined products over eight months. The embargo exempts pipeline oil from Russia as a concession to Hungary and two other landlocked Central European states.

In China, Shanghai’s strict Covid-19 lockdown ended on Wednesday after two months, prompting expectations of firmer fuel demand from the country.

Capping gains were reports that some producers were exploring the idea of suspending Russia’s participation in a production deal of Opec+ (a grouping of Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries members and their allies) on expectations such a move would increase supply.

“The full reopening of Shanghai from Covid-19 restrictions may boost sentiment at the periphery, but the possible exemption of Russia by Opec, from the output agreement, is the bigger story,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda.

While there was no formal push for Opec countries to pump more oil to make up for any potential Russian shortfall, some Gulf members had begun planning for an output increase sometime in the next few months, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing Opec delegates. “The anticipation of more supply hitting the market, even after cutting Russia out, could be fuelling some of this sell-off as oil gave up its post-EU embargo bounce,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management, in a note.

US crude oil production rose in March by more than 3% to the highest since November 2021, according to a monthly report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Tuesday.

Data from the US government on stockpiles was expected on Thursday. Analysts, in a Reuters poll, expected US crude oil inventories to fall last week, while gasoline and distillate stockpiles were seen up.

Reuters

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