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March 23, 2022

Oil jumps 5% as Caspian pipeline disruption adds to supply fears

Oil prices jumped 5 per cent to over $121 a barrel on Wednesday as a weather-related disruption to Russian and Kazakh crude exports via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) pipeline added to worries over tight global supplies.

Brent crude futures were up $5.95, or 5.1 per cent, at $121.43 a barrel as of 12:01 p.m. EDT (1501 GMT). U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose $5.24, or 4.8 per cent, to $114.51 a barrel.

The CPC pipeline has been in the spotlight as the market is on edge over the ripple effect of heavy sanctions on Russia, the world’s second-largest crude exporter, after its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation.”

Crude oil exports from Kazakhstan’s CPC terminal on Russia’s Black Sea coast stopped fully on Wednesday after damage caused by a major storm and continued bad weather, a port ship agent and the head of CPC said.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak later said that oil supplies by the CPC may be completely stopped for up to two months.

The CPC pipeline carries around 1.2 million barrels per day of Kazakhstan’s main crude grade, which accounts for 1.2 per cent of global demand.

“Prices are primarily rising on the loss of CPC Blend crude exports out of Novorossiisk … adding further bullish fuel to the fire as the drop in Russian crude exports finally appears under way,” said Matt Smith, lead oil analyst for the Americas at Kpler.

U.S. President Joe Biden is set to announce more Russian sanctions when he meets with European leaders on Thursday in Brussels, including an emergency meeting of NATO. Russia refers to the invasion, which is now a month old, as a “special operation.”

European Union member countries remain split on whether to ban imports of Russian crude and oil products, but this might change once short-term contracts run out.

“You’ll know at the end of April what the total loss of Russian oil is,” said Trafigura’s Ben Luckock, at the FT Commodities Global Summit. He said it was possible that oil could reach $200 a barrel.

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