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Oil prices jump on global energy supply concerns

Oil prices jump

Global benchmark Brent crude gained $2.24, or 2.3%, to settle at $99.08 a barrel, while U.S. WTI crude advanced 71 cents, or 0.8%, to settle at $92.81 a barrel

Oil prices jumped on Thursday, with Brent rising above $105 a barrel for the first time since 2014 before easing, after Russia’s attack on Ukraine exacerbated concerns about disruptions to global energy supply.

U.S. President Joe Biden unveiled harsh new sanctions against Russia, imposing measures to impede its ability to do business in the world’s major currencies along with sanctions against banks and state-owned enterprises.

Britain announced new measures targeting banks, members of Putin’s inner circle and the very wealthy who enjoy high-rolling London lifestyles. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the West must end its reliance on Russian oil and gas.

Global benchmark Brent crude gained $2.24, or 2.3%, to settle at $99.08 a barrel, after touching a high of $105.79.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude advanced 71 cents, or 0.8%, to settle at $92.81 a barrel, after earlier rising to $100.54.

Brent and WTI hit their highest levels since August and July 2014, respectively.

Later in the session, prices eased after Biden said the United States is working with other countries on a combined release of additional oil from global strategic crude reserves.

The news around reserve releases is ‘having a psychological impact, but whether there is a real impact will take a few weeks to determine,’ said Phil Flynn, senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Russia is the third-largest oil producer and second-largest oil exporter, said UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo. Given low inventories and dwindling spare capacity, the oil market cannot afford large supply disruptions.

Russia is also the largest provider of natural gas to Europe, providing about 35% of its supply.

At least three major buyers of Russian oil were unable to open letters of credit from Western banks to cover purchases on Thursday, sources told Reuters.

China warned of the impact of tensions on the stability of the energy market.

All countries that are truly responsible should take responsible actions to jointly maintain global energy security, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said.

In the United States, commercial crude inventories rose 4.5 million barrels last week to 416 million barrels, much more than analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 400,000-barrel build.

However, crude in the U.S. SPR fell 2.4 million barrels to 582.4 million barrels, its lowest since 2002, government data showed.

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