US oil soars to highest since 2011 amid Russia-Ukraine conflict

Amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for April delivery added $7.19, or 7 per cent, to settle at $110.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest finish since 2011.

Also on Wednesday, brent crude for May delivery increased $7.96, or 7.6 per cent, to close at $112.93 a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange, the highest level since 2014, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, announced on Wednesday that it would stick to existing plans for a modest oil output increase of 400,000 barrels per day in April.

The oil alliance noted in a statement after the 26th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting that the current volatility in the oil market is caused by geopolitical developments rather than changes in market fundamentals.

Meanwhile, prices garnered some support after data showed a drop in US fuel stockpiles.

US commercial crude oil inventories decreased by 2.6 million barrels during the week ending February 25, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on Wednesday.

According too the EIA, total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 0.5 million barrels last week, while distillate fuel inventories decreased by 0.6 million barrels.

Oil prices have jumped to multi-year highs in recent days as the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and the far-reaching Western sanctions against Moscow prompted fears about energy supply disruptions from key exporter Russia.

The International Energy Agency announced Tuesday that its member countries had agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil from their emergency reserves to ease any supply shortfall caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

However, the announcement failed to calm markets, with the WTI and Brent surging 8 per cent and nearly 7.2 percent, respectively, on Tuesday.

According to the Interfax news agency, Russia exported 4.6 million barrels per day on average in January and February.

Experts said that energy prices will be a key factor to watch as events unfold, warning of potential adverse impact on economic growth from higher commodity prices, at a time when the world is still recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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