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Oil rises over 1% as Libya outages add to Russia supply fears

April 19, 2022By Reuters

Oil prices rose more than 1% on Monday, with Brent crude topping USD 114 a barrel, as outages in Libya deepened concern over tight global supply amid the Ukraine crisis.

Adding to supply pressures from sanctions on Russia, Libya’s National Oil Corp on Monday said “a painful wave of closures” had begun hitting its facilities and declared force majeure at Al-Sharara oilfield and other sites.

“With global supplies now so tight, even the most minor disruption is likely to have an outsized impact on prices,” said Jeffrey Halley, analyst at brokerage OANDA.

Brent crude LCOc1, the global benchmark, rose USD 1.46, or 1.3%, to settle at USD 113.16 a barrel. The contract rose to USD 114.84 a barrel, its highest since March 28.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate rose USD 1.26, or 1.2%, to settle at USD 108.21 a barrel. The benchmark hit USD 109.81 a barrel, also the highest since March 28.

Deeper supply losses loom. Russian production declined by 7.5% in the first half of April from March, Interfax reported on Friday, and EU governments said last week the bloc’s executive was drafting proposals to ban Russian crude.

Those comments came before an escalation in the Ukraine war. Ukrainian authorities said missiles struck Lviv early on Monday and explosions rocked other cities as Russian forces kept up their bombardments after claiming near full control of the port of Mariupol.

In a bearish signal for prices, China’s economy slowed in March, taking the shine off first-quarter growth numbers and worsening an outlook already weakened by COVID-19 curbs.

Data on Monday also showed China refined 2% less oil in March than a year earlier, with throughput falling to the lowest since October as the surge in crude prices squeezed margins and tight lockdowns reduced demand.

Oil surged to the highest since 2008 in March, with Brent briefly topping USD 134.

“There’s still some confusion about whether they’re reopening their economy, so we’re getting mixed signals out of China and that has presented a lot of volatility this morning,” Price Futures Group analyst Phil Flynn said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Kelly in New York; additional reporting by Alex Lawler in London and Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Nick Macfie, Barbara Lewis and Cynthia Osterman)

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