Oil futures were broadly stable on Friday, but were poised to end the week up, ahead of a meeting by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) on Sunday and an European Union (EU) ban on Russian crude oil kicking in on Monday.
Brent crude futures were up 14 cents, or 0.2 per cent, at $87.02 per barrel by 1008 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures inched up five cents, or 0.1 per cent, to $81.27 per barrel.
Both Brent and WTI had dipped earlier in the session, but were on track for their first weekly gains – the biggest in two months at around four per cent and six per cent, respectively – after three consecutive weeks of decline.
Sending bullish signals, China is set to announce an easing of its COVID-19 quarantine protocols within days, sources told Reuters, which would be a major shift in policy in the world’s second biggest oil consumer, though analysts warn a significant economic reopening is likely months away.
Also underpinning oil prices, the U.S. dollar, which typically trades inversely with oil, hit five-month lows.
Meanwhile, European Union governments tentatively agreed on a $60 a barrel price cap on Russian seaborne oil with an adjustment mechanism to keep the cap at five per cent below the market price, according to diplomats and a document seen by Reuters.
This still needs formal approval before the bloc’s sanctions on Russian crude kick in on December 5 Russian Urals crude traded at around $70 a barrel on Thursday afternoon.
Poland, which had pushed for the cap to be as low as possible, had not confirmed that it would support the deal, an EU diplomat said.
OPEC+ is widely expected to stick to its latest target of reducing oil production by two million barrels per day (bpd) when it meets on Sunday, but some analysts believe that crude prices could fall if the group does not make further cuts.
“This week’s price rebound has taken Brent to within touching distance of the $90/barrels threshold and may temper appetite among (OPEC+’s) leadership for fresh price-supportive cuts,” said PVM analyst Stephen Brennock.
“That being said, the prospect of subdued Chinese oil demand and more U.S. (strategic petroleum reserve) releases could prompt pre-emptive action by the alliance. Either way, the ingredients are there for price fireworks come Monday morning.” – Reuters