Oil is steadily rising in trading on Thursday amid expectations of increased demand. The easing of some quarantine restrictions in China promises the market a recovery in consumption this year, which supports the general optimism in the commodity sector.
Brent crude for March delivery was at $87.31 per barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange by 17:39 London time, up 1.38% on the previous trading day.
The West Texas Intermediate for March delivery was at $81.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, i.e., 1.33% above the final value of the previous trading session.
Oil prices were also supported by the report on crude oil stocks in the US, which was published on Wednesday. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that the country's commercial crude oil inventories rose by 0.5 million barrels during the week ending Jan. 20. Analysts had expected reserves to grow by 0.97 million barrels.
Distillate inventories continued to fall by 0.51 million, reflecting the cold weather in the country. Demand for refined products in the US declined slightly over the week, but still remained at quite comfortable levels for current prices - 19.5 million barrels per day.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Russia has transshipped record volumes of Urals oil at sea. According to the agency, a total of 19 million barrels of crude oil are likely to be transshipped in January and December. The report said that volume of such crude is expected to hit a record 14 million barrels in January alone.
Recall that at the beginning of December, the European Union prohibited the maritime transport of Russian crude oil and petroleum products. In addition to that, following the G7 plan, EU countries agreed to cap the maritime trade of Russian oil at $60 per barrel. Such a sanction measure led to the fact that the cost of freight began to grow rapidly. Vessels that transship crude at $60 and below are obliged to use insurance under the current conditions.
Bloomberg reported that sources said a fifth supertanker, or very large crude carrier (VLCC), are involved in transshipment of Urals. Three vessels have already departed for Asia, and two more are waiting for departure at the Spanish transshipment point.
The EU, among other sanctions measures, is also studying the possibility of imposing a price limit of $100 per barrel on Russian diesel fuel.
The EU is also studying the possibility of setting a price ceiling on oil products from Russia that are traded at a discount, such as fuel oil, at $45.