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Oil Rises More Than 1% Due to Libya Blackout

Oil prices rose more than 1% on Monday, with Brent crude hitting $114 a barrel, as the outage in Libya deepened concerns over tight global supplies amid the Ukraine crisis.

Adding to supply pressure from sanctions against Russia, Libya's National Oil Corp. on Monday said a "painful wave of closures" had begun to hit its facilities and declared force majeure at the Al-Sharara oil field and other sites.

With global supply now very tight, even the slightest disruption is likely to have a big impact on prices, said Jeffrey Halley, analyst at broker OANDA.

Deeper supply losses loom. Russian output fell 7.5% in the first half of April from March, Interfax reported on Friday, and the EU government said last week that the bloc's executive was drafting a proposal to ban Russian crude.

The comments came before an escalation in the Ukraine war. Ukrainian authorities said missiles hit Lviv on Monday morning and explosions rocked other cities as Russian forces continued to bombard them after claiming nearly complete control of the Mariupol port.

 

Background of Rising Crude Oil Prices

In a bearish signal for prices, China's economy slowed in March, stripping first-quarter growth figures, and exacerbating 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 dropping to its lowest level since October as surging crude prices squeezed margins and tight lockdowns dampened demand.

Oil surged to its highest level since 2008 in March, with Brent briefly hitting $134. Oil prices rose on Monday as concerns grew about tighter global supplies, with the deepening crisis in Ukraine raising the prospect of tougher sanctions by the West on top exporter Russia.

Brent futures were up $1.50, or 1.3%, at $113.20 a barrel by 00:30 GMT, and U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures were up 98 cents, or 0.9%, at $107.93 per barrel.

Ahead of the Easter holiday weekend, both contracts were up more than 2.5% on Thursday on news that the European Union may gradually ban Russian oil imports.

The EU government said last week that the bloc's executive was drafting a proposal to ban Russian crude, but diplomats said Germany was not actively supporting an outright embargo.

The comments come before tensions escalated in the Ukraine crisis over the weekend, with the Ukrainian army rejecting a Russian ultimatum to lay down arms on Sunday in the devastated Mariupol port.

Oil Price Movements and Production Amount

Moscow, which calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation", says its forces have almost completely captured the city, without giving any sign of a truce.

The International Energy Agency has warned that about 3 million barrels per day (bpd) of Russian oil could be shut down from May onwards due to sanctions, or buyers voluntarily avoiding Russian cargo.

Russian oil production continued to slump in April, down 7.5% in the first half of the month from March, the Interfax news agency reported on Friday.

Soaring US heating oil prices have also been on the back of the recent rally as expectations grow that the US oil market will tighten further as demand for exports to Europe increases.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries OPEC and its allies in the group known as OPEC+, which includes Russia, have resisted Western pressure to increase output more quickly.

An OPEC report last week showed OPEC production in March rose just 57,000 bpd to 28.56 million bpd, lagging the 253,000-bpd increase OPEC allowed under the OPEC+ deal.

Adding to the pressure, Libya halted oil production from the El Feel oil field on Sunday and two sources at the Zueitina oil port said exports there had been suspended after protesters calling for Tripoli-based Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah to resign took over the site.

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