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Crude falls as US, Russia step in to stabilise prices

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ISLAMABAD: Crude oil prices went down for the second straight day in a row on Thursday, after hitting the multi-year high levels previously, due to favourable statements from Washington and Moscow.

At 1300 hours GMT, Brent, the international benchmark for two-thirds of the world’s oil, shed $0.38 (-0.47 percent) to reach $80.70 a barrel.

Similarly, the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) reached $76.86 a barrel, down by $0.57 (-0.74 percent).

The price for Opec Basket was recorded at $80.43 a barrel with a 2.79 percent increase. Arab Light was available at $79.39 a barrel with a 2.17 percent decrease, while the price of Russian Sokol slipped to $80.35 after shedding 2.11 percent.

According to experts, oil prices fell as the United States announced that it is considering selling oil from its strategic reserves. They said the crude market might be less tight should the United States tap the strategic crude reserves.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Wednesday that the administration is considering tapping the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to cool a surge in gasoline prices. Granholm also did not rule out a ban on crude exports, which was lifted in 2015.

On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia is boosting gas supplies to Europe, including via Ukraine, in response to the energy crunch and stands ready to stabilise the market amid surging prices. This also caused a fall in crude oil prices, they added.

The experts said that a larger-than-expected fall in US crude inventories last week also weighed on prices. Stocks rose by 2.3 million barrels, the US Energy Information Administration said, against expectations for a modest dip of 418,000 barrels.

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