Following news over the weekend that the US and its European allies are debating a possible embargo on Russian oil shipments, Brent crude jumped over 18 percent to just shy of $140 a barrel at the Asian open.
It’s the latest in a series of price increases that have thrown energy markets into disarray and the world on the verge of a huge inflationary shock since the invasion of Ukraine. Here’s what analysts are saying about the potential consequences of a Russian oil embargo.
Potential consequences of a Russian oil embargo
“One of the biggest unknowns is whether and how the escalation of economic warfare between Russia and the West would affect oil and gas flows,” said Victor Shum, vice president of IHS Markit, which is part of S&P Global. “NATO nations presently buy more than half of Russia’s 7.5 million barrels per day of crude oil and processed products,” he said, adding that stocks in the United States are already low and at historic lows in OECD Europe and Asia. “Because of the war’s many facets, there will be unanticipated disruptions and consequences.”
ANZ Banking Group
New sanctions could affect almost 5 million barrels of oil supply per day, including pipeline crude and seaborne shipments, according to Daniel Hynes, a senior commodity strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. “We may already be seeing the expected impact of those sanctions,” he said, adding that “this reaction could be perceived as a bit knee-jerk.” Given the current state of the energy complex, Europe does not have many options and will most likely pay significantly more for its oil, gas, and other fuels in the near future, according to Hynes.
JTD Energy Services
“With the rise in global tensions, uncertainty, and worry, it will be difficult to precisely judge the top of this rally,” said John Driscoll, the founder of JTD Energy Services in Singapore, in an interview. “Demand destruction kicked in about $150 a barrel in July 2008 during the 2008-2009 financial crisis,” he said. “However, because this spike is supply-driven, prices may rise above that level before settling down.”
Insights from Vanda
According to Vandana Hari, head of Singapore-based Vanda Insights, an embargo on Russian imports might throw the energy markets into the biggest pandemonium of our lifetimes. “Nothing is entirely priced in because in this battle, all bets are off,” she explained. Even if the US follows ahead with the embargo, Hari believes it will be impossible for the European Union to agree to it because if Moscow retaliates, it will be “lights out” in Europe.
Russian crude and gasoil exports are already being avoided, according to Citigroup Inc. analysts, including Ed Morse, in the bank’s quarterly commodities outlook. Citi’s base scenario is for Russian output to shrink by 500,000 barrels per day and reserves to be released by 60 million barrels. According to its bull case, Russian output will fall by 2 million barrels per day by the end of 2022, with about 120 million barrels of reserves released from the United States and other countries. According to Citi’s super-bull scenario, Moscow will only export crude to China, with no response from OPEC+. According to the report, the Russia-Ukraine crisis raises the potential of several disruptions, including pipeline and port damage, higher tanker rates, export frictions, and cyber-attacks.