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Futures Movers: Brent oil prices end above $100 a barrel on new Russia sanctions as U.S. and others eye release from oil reserves

Oil prices finished sharply higher on Monday, with global benchmark Brent crude above $100 a barrel, after the West imposed more sanctions on Russia, a key energy producer, due to its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. and other major oil-consuming countries were weighing the release of 70 million barrels of oil from emergency stockpiles in response to surging crude prices.

Price action

West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery
CL.1,
+4.42%

CL00,
+4.42%

CLJ22,
+4.42%

on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose $4.13, or 4.5%, to settle at $95.72 a barrel. The front-month contract finished at the highest since August 2014, up 8.6% for the month, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Global benchmark April Brent crude
BRNJ22,
+3.24%

climbed $3.06, or 3.1%, to end at $100.99 a barrel. The contract, which expired at the end of the session, settled at its highest since September 2014, posting a gain of 10.7% for the month. The more actively traded May contract
BRN00,
-0.09%

BRNK22,
-0.09%

climbed $3.85, or 4.1%, at $97.97 a barrel.

April natural gas
NGJ22,
-1.16%

fell 1.5% to $4.402 per million British thermal units, losing 9.7% in February.

March gasoline
RBH22,
+1.50%

tacked on 2.6% to $2.797 a gallon, marking a gain of 9.5% for the month, and March heating oil
HOH22,
+5.38%

added about 5.8% to $3.013 a gallon, up 9.2% for the month. The March contracts expired at the end of the session.

Market drivers

Members of the International Energy Agency, a Paris-based group whose members include most industrialized nations, could agree as early as Monday or Tuesday to tap their national strategic oil reserves, the report said, citing European and Persian Gulf officials. The Journal reported it would include 40 million barrels from the U.S.

Oil prices had jumped after the U.S., the European Union and the U.K. over the weekend said they would block some Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system, a move that makes it more difficult for countries to purchase Russian oil.

“Geopolitical risks will remain high for some time,” Matthew Parry, head of long-term analysis at Energy Aspects, recently told MarketWatch. “Western sanctions are expanding as the conflict widens.” Parry expects the Brent price to average $101 this year.

The U.S. Treasury on Monday said it’s prohibiting any transactions with the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, as well as Russia’s national wealth fund and the Russian Ministry of Finance. 

The “hurdles that these sanctions will create for financial payments are likely to exacerbate the recent Russian commodity supply shock, already visible as Western and Chinese traders halting shipments,” said analysts at Goldman Sachs.

The Goldman analysts hiked their one-month Brent price forecast to $115 from $95, arguing there would need to be up to 4 million barrels of demand destruction to offset the loss of Russian exports.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries could respond, the analysts added. “While such an outcome becomes increasingly likely the more Russia is ostracized from the global economy, driving core-OPEC, Iran and the West closer together, it would nonetheless come at the expense of a complete depletion of the global oil market’s spare capacity, still warranting much higher oil prices,” they said.

OPEC and its allies, together known as OPEC+, will meet Wednesday to make a decision on April oil production levels.

In other news, BP
BP,
-5.30%

said it would exit its stake in Rosneft, taking a $25 billion write-down, as Equinor
EQNR,
+0.78%

also said it would end its Russian ventures.

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