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Futures Movers: ‘Barrels at any price.’ Relentless rally pushes oil prices past $110 as Russia-Ukraine war fuels panic

Oil prices surged past $110 a barrel to levels not seen since 2013 on Wednesday, as investors concerns mounted over potential supply disruptions from an intensifying Russia-Ukraine war.

Price action

April West Texas Intermediate crude futures CL.1, 7.17% CL00, 7.06% CLJ22, 7.06% rose $6.51, or around 6%, to $109.95 a barrel , the highest since Sept. 2013, and hit an intraday high of $111.50. On Tuesday, the contract climbed 8% to settle at $103.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest for a front-month contract since July 22, 2014, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

May Brent crude BRN00, 6.79% BRNK22, 6.74%, the global benchmark, jumped $6.65, or 6.3%, to $111.53 a barrel, bringing the contract to its highest level since July 2014. Brent finished Tuesday’s session with a 7.2% gain to close at $104.97 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, the highest finish since Aug. 8, 2014.

April natural gas NGJ22, 2.62% rose 3.5% to $4.723 per million British thermal units.

April gasoline RBJ22, 5.54% climbed 3% to $3.223 a gallon. April heating oil HOJ22, 7.53% rose 6.6% to $3.364 a gallon. The contract rose 7.5% to $3.151 a gallon on Tuesday, the highest finish since February 2014.

Market drivers

Oil prices were already climbing on Tuesday amid concerns over war-fueled supply disruptions, when the International Energy Agency said its member countries agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil from their emergency reserves.

The gains continued in futures trading, with analysts commenting that the extra oil was a mere drop in the bucket of what would be needed to deal with potential disruptions.

Read: Oil surges, but history says prices eventually fall after countries release emergency reserves

“Russia is starting a new phase of the campaign, bringing a lot more force to bear and shelling civilian areas. This poses the risk that the West will encounter growing pressure to sanction Russian oil and gas exports, with all that would entail,” said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for Markets.com, in a note to clients.

“Centrica said it is urgently seeking to end its natural gas supply agreement with Gazprom – self-sanctioning already well under way. Exxon Mobil followed Shell and BP to say it will exit Russia, leaving $4bn in assets in doubt. We are seeing this with the container ships too, and banks. Moreover oil traders are already starting to try to secure alternatives,” said Wilson.

War in Ukraine: Russian troops encircling key cities as assaults stepped up on urban areas in seventh day of conflict

Investors will now turn their attention to  Wednesday’s monthly meeting of OPEC+ —- the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies, including Russia. The producer group is expected to make a decision on oil production levels for April, but analysts expect them to continue with a plan to raise production by 400,000 barrels per day.

Wilson said the cartel’s technical experts cut their expectations for the daily oil market surplus by 200,000 barrels to 1.1 million barrels, with fuel stockpiles in developed nations expected to be 62m barrels below the 2015 to 2019 average by the end of 2022, from a previous shortfall of 20m barrels.

“But the market is not really moving on this as much as just pure fear of immediate disruption to supplies; traders are getting hold of barrels at any price,” said Wilson.

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