Oil prices continued to skyrocket on Tuesday as Russia’s military ramped up its assault on Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv, with US West Texas Intermediate crude surging to seven-year highs of around $105 per barrel amid fears that the conflict could further disrupt a tight global energy market.
US oil benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude jumped nearly 10% to around $105 per barrel on Tuesday, its highest level since July 2014, while international benchmark Brent crude gained 8.3% to trade at over $106 per barrel.
The International Energy Agency held a meeting with energy officials from around the globe on Tuesday to discuss how IEA members “can play a role in stabilizing energy markets,” with member countries agreeing to release 60 million barrels of oil from their strategic reserves to help offset the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
While the United States and Western allies have now unleashed severe economic sanctions against Russia for its military aggression, most countries have been so far reluctant to target the country with tough energy sanctions.
Analysts fear that if Russia’s energy exports get disrupted, either due to a prolonged conflict with Ukraine or a new round of harsher Western sanctions, then global energy markets could face a supply shock, as Russia is the world’s second-largest oil producer and a major natural gas provider for Europe.
Canada on Monday became the first country to target Russia’s energy markets directly by banning oil imports, and although other Western allies are yet to follow suit, signs of disruptions in Russian oil exports are already showing, according to analysts.
“Current oil price differentials are reflecting a clear unwillingness to take Russian crude,” JPMorgan said in a note to clients Tuesday, adding that “key European financiers to commodity trade houses have already begun curbing financing for commodities trades, and Chinese banks are also pulling back.”