Oil Edges Higher on Russia Crude Cut, US Inflation Fears

February 14, 2023
oil demand worries

By Adedapo Adesanya

Oil edged higher on Monday as investors weighed Russia’s plans to cut crude production and short-term demand concerns ahead of US inflation data.

Brent futures rose 30 cents or 0.4 per cent to $86.69 a barrel, while the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 58 cents or 0.7 per cent to $80.30 per barrel.

The world’s third-largest oil producer, Russia, last Friday said it would cut crude production in March by 500,000 barrels per day.

This is about 5 per cent of output, in retaliation against Western curbs imposed on its exports in response to the Ukraine conflict.

According to the Deputy Prime Minister, Alexander Novak, Russia is “fully selling the entire volume of oil produced, however, as stated earlier, we will not sell oil to those who directly or indirectly adhere to the principles of the price cap.”

“In this regard, Russia will voluntarily reduce production by 500,000 barrels per day in March. This will contribute to the restoration of market relations.”

The Russian government also said on Friday that it had held talks with some members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, OPEC+, producers group regarding its decision to cut output.

The G7, the European Union and Australia agreed to ban the use of Western-supplied maritime insurance, finance and brokering for seaborne Russian oil priced above $60 per barrel from December 5 as part of Western sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

The EU also imposed a ban on purchases of Russian oil products and set price caps from February 5. In turn, Russia has banned deals involving any application of the price cap mechanisms.

Since the EU implemented its ban on Russian seaborne crude in early December, the country has been left without a reliable price-setting mechanism for Urals, its headline crude.

For now, Russia is using Rotterdam and Augusta ports prices for its flagship Urals. And as of last week, the price of Urals was set to be fixed at $20 below Brent for tax purposes.

Pressure came as traders await the latest inflation reading from the US.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is releasing its consumer price index report for January on Thursday, but a revision of December figures released last Friday showed that CPI for the last month of 2022 actually increased instead of decreasing as initially reported by the BLS.

The January reading is seen by analysts at 0.4 per cent, according to a Reuters survey.

On top of worries about US inflation and its effect on oil demand, traders are also bracing for news from the US Federal Reserve this week, hoping this will ease fears that the US central bank may act even more aggressively to counter inflation.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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