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Oil settles down again; Russia to fulfil supply contracts

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© Reuters. Industrial facilities of PCK Raffinerie oil refinery are pictured in Schwedt/Oder, Germany, March 8, 2022. The company receives crude oil from Russia via the ‘Friendship’ pipeline. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

By Shadia Nasralla

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices bounced on Thursday from a sharp drop in the previous session after the United Arab Emirates backtracked on statements saying that OPEC and its allies might increase output to help to plug the gap in exports from Russia.

In a volatile market, Brent crude futures were up $4.90, or 4.4%, at $116.04 a barrel by 1428 GMT after trading in an $8 range. The benchmark contract slumped 13% in the previous session in its biggest daily drop in percentage terms for about two years.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up $3.71, or 3.4%, at $112.41 after trading in a $7 range. The contract had tumbled 12% in the previous session in the biggest daily decline since November.

PVM oil market analyst Tamas Varga called Wednesday’s slump a “temporary correction.”

Uncertainty over where supply will come from to replace Russian crude – and when – has led to wide-ranging forecasts for oil prices up to $200 a barrel.

While oil from the world’s second-largest exporter is being shunned over its invasion of Ukraine, comments from United Arab Emirates (UAE) officials sent conflicting signals.

Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei said on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) the UAE was committed to an agreement between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia to ramp up oil supply by only 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) each month after sharp cuts in 2020.

Only hours earlier, prices slumped after the UAE’s ambassador to Washington said his country would encourage OPEC to consider higher output to fill the supply gap created by sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Russia calls its incursion a “special operation”.

While the UAE and Saudi Arabia have spare capacity, some other producers in the OPEC+ alliance are struggling to meet output targets because of infrastructure underinvestment over the past few years.

Talks set for Thursday between Russia and Ukraine’s foreign ministers in Turkey also gave the market reason for pause.

The market also took into account moves by the United States to ease sanctions on Venezuelan oil and efforts to seal a nuclear deal with Tehran, which could lead to increased oil supply.

Further supply could also come from stockpile releases coordinated by the International Energy Agency and growing U.S. output.

“With some goodwill, co-ordination and luck, the supply shock can greatly be mitigated but probably not neutralised,” Varga said.

Meanwhile, U.S. crude oil and fuel stockpiles fell last week, adding to worries over already tight global supplies.

Crude inventories fell by 1.9 million barrels in the week to March 4 to 411.6 million barrels. U.S. crude stocks in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve fell to 577.5 million barrels, the lowest since July 2002.

Oil bounces as tight supply gives high floor to prices

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