Oil futures: Brent retreats as Russian price cap talks stalled again

25 Nov 2022

Quantum Commodity Intelligence - Crude oil futures Friday were trending lower as investors wait for further clarity on the Russian price cap talks ahead of the 5 December deadline.   

Front-month January ICE Brent futures were trading at $83.85/b (1915 GMT), compared to the day's high of $86.87/b and Thursday's settle of $85.34/b.  

At the same time, Jan23 NYMEX WTI was trading $76.55/b versus Thursday's settle of $77.94/b.

Both benchmarks were over 4% lower on the week.

EU and G7 officials again failed to agree on a price ceiling for Russian crude exports, with levels between $60/b and $70/b indicated so far.  

Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, suggested $65/b could be a compromise number, noting that is roughly where Russian barrels are currently trading.

"That would blunt the effectiveness of the cap and ensure we don't see any shortages in supply. But it may be what is necessary to keep all stakeholders on board, with some countries concerned about the domestic implications of a stricter cap," said Erlam.

Talks resumed Friday with officials looking for an agreement ahead of the weekend, although there were a number of issues still to resolve. Discussions Friday were largely  via backchannels, but more formal talks scheduled for the evening were postponed until after the weekend.  

Prices were lifted earlier in the session after Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman met with his Iraqi counterpart, where they stressed the importance of sticking to the OPEC+ decision to cut oil production.

Meanwhile, China continues to report record numbers of Covid cases, impacting around a fifth of the country's GDP, on par with the economic impact of Shanghai's shutdown in April.

Some 21% of China's total GDP is now under lockdown, up from 9.5% per cent a month ago, according to a Nomura report published on Thursday.

Trading volumes were  subdued Friday with the US closed for a national holiday.