Oil eases as Ukraine hints at concessions to Russia

Oil prices ease but US, Russia tension simmers

In Summary

•Comments from the United States about an imminent attack by Russia on Ukraine have rattled global financial markets

•Investors are also watching talks between the United States and Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal

Oil eased on Monday, after earlier hitting its highest in more than seven years, as Ukraine hinted at possible concessions to Russia that could alleviate tensions between the two countries that Western governments say are on the brink of war.

Brent crude was down 81 cents, or 0.9%, at $93.63 a barrel by 1259 GMT, off an earlier peak of $96.16, the highest since October 2014.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 83 cents, or 0.9%, to $92.27 a barrel, after hitting $94.94, the loftiest since September 2014.

"Market participants are concerned that a conflict between Russia and the Ukraine could disrupt supply," said Giovanni Staunovo, commodity analyst at UBS.

He said the oil market is sensitive to any news of potential supply disruptions as oil inventories are low and producers' spare capacity is expected to fall further.

Comments from the United States about an imminent attack by Russia on Ukraine have rattled global financial markets.

Russia could invade Ukraine at any time and might create a surprise pretext for an attack, the United States said on Sunday.

However, markets later cooled as Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko said Ukraine was prepared to make some concessions to Russia.

"If Russia invades Ukraine, crude oil and natural gas prices can be expected to surge significantly. In this case, Brent would probably exceed $100 per barrel," said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

Supplies have been stretched as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, have struggled to deliver monthly pledges to increase output by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) until March.

"Oil prices are once again coming under tremendous upward pressure as OPEC+ missed its output targets by a high 900,000 barrels in January," said Pratibha Thaker, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s editorial director for Middle East and Africa.

The International Energy Agency's (IEA) chief Fatih Birol on Monday urged OPEC+ to close the gap between its words and its actions.

Investors are also watching talks between the United States and Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

The Iranian foreign minister said on Monday Iran was "in a hurry" to reach a swift agreement with world powers in nuclear talks in Vienna, provided its national interests are protected.

"A nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran could release 1.3 million barrels of supply, but this will not be sufficient to ease the supply constraints," said Thaker.

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