Surging oil costs are adding to the inflationary pressures on the global economy, boosting the prices of everything from gasoline at the pump to diesel used by industrial consumers.
Despite the turmoil, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies are sitting on the sidelines. The group stuck with the 400,000 barrel-a-day production increase that was scheduled for April and wrapped up a Wednesday meeting in a record time of just 13 minutes, delegates said. Mexican Energy Minister Rocio Nahle tried to raise the subject of Russia, but other members of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia swiftly moved on to other matters without any discussion, they said.
The International Energy Agency has warned that global energy security was under threat and a planned emergency release of crude reserves by the U.S. and others has done little to quell market fears. Russia’s Surgutneftegas PJSC failed to sell any of the crude it was offering for a third time and values of the country’s flagship Urals crude have collapsed.
“Although Western sanctions have not gone as far as to ban Russian exports, the country’s supply of crude oil and products have clearly been affected either by “self-sanctioning” or because financial punitive measures make it impossible to finance oil trade with Russia,” said Tamas Varga, an analyst at brokerage PVM Oil Associates.
The U.S. and its allies have so far refrained from sanctioning Russia’s crude exports due to concerns about the impact of rising energy prices on consumers, but trade is seizing up as banks pull financing and shipping costs spike. Even before the invasion, American retail gasoline was at its highest since 2014.
Brent remains in deep backwardation, a bullish structure where prompt barrels are more expensive than later-dated cargoes, indicating nervousness over tightening supply. The benchmark’s prompt spread was $4.55 a barrel, and has touched record levels in recent days.
The Biden administration said Wednesday it is seeking to degrade Russia’s status as a leading producer of oil and natural gas by restricting exports of technology related to the energy sector. The world’s oil majors including BP Plc, Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. have also pledged to exit Russia.