The price of oil hit new highs: at times Thursday, Brent from the North Sea cost $120 a barrel (159 liters). This is the highest level for almost ten years. The all-time high of $147.50 from 2008, when the world still believed that China’s hunger for raw materials was ever increasing, has yet to be reached. Nevertheless, the price increase has exceeded almost all forecasts made by experts – no one could have imagined this last year.
In the oil market, they are now pointing to Russian oil trader Trafigura, which has failed several times this week to find buyers for its oil, when it wanted to lower the price. “Even without direct sanctions, more and more market participants are reluctant to buy Russian oil,” reports Carsten Fritsch, an oil expert at Commerzbank.
Moreover, the OPEC plus grouping said it would not produce more oil than expected, despite the high price. This became known after an online meeting of oil states. As a result, countries do not want to increase production in April by more than those 400,000 barrels per day, which have been fixed for some time. In this group, the classic OPEC countries around Saudi Arabia collaborate with Russia. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud has declared his intention to maintain the partnership with Russia despite the war of aggression against Ukraine.
In part, the oil-producing countries probably don’t want to produce more oil because the high price suits them just fine. In part, though, they probably can’t do it overnight, according to Giovanni Staunovo, an oil expert at UBS bank. Energy Intelligence estimates that Russian oil exports have fallen by at least a third this week, or about 2.5 million barrels per day. He said the roughly 1.8 million barrels per day transported by major pipelines had been unaffected so far. Of that, one million barrels went to Europe and 800,000 to China. For the rest – crude oil shipped mainly through Baltic Sea, Black Sea ports and the port of Kozmino in Russia’s Far East – buyers are currently hard to find, he said.
In return, the oil reserves of various industrialized countries are released. But that doesn’t seem to turn the market upside down. “Strategic reserves are good for filling temporary production interruptions, but longer ones are not,” says analyst Staunovo. Goldman Sachs oil experts, led by Jeff Currie, also believe that only lower demand via higher prices could rebalance the oil market now.
The consequences are felt at service stations. On the commodity markets, the price of so-called gas oil, a preliminary product for the production of diesel, even rose particularly sharply compared to the previous day. The background is apparently that the sanctions should also have an impact on Russian refineries.
In Germany, gasoline and diesel prices have reached new highs. Diesel now costs for the first time an average of 1.80 euros per liter, the Super E10 more than 1.85 euros. The fact that at some gas stations Super E10 costs more than 2 euros at certain times of the day has not been a feature for some time. At some motorway service stations, all types of fuel cost more than 2 euros, including diesel. In Konstanz, the average price of Super E10 is now even higher than 2 euros. This has never happened before.