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Oil Prices Rise as Earthquakes Hit Turkey, Syria

By Adedapo Adesanya

Oil prices rose on Monday, buoyed by supply concerns following earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

Brent crude futures rose 46 cents or 0.6 per cent to $80.40 a barrel, as the United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures jumped by 20 cents or 0.3 per cent to $73.59 a barrel.

Massive earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday halted operations at Turkey’s major oil export hub in Ceyhan and stopped key crude oil flows from Iraq and Azerbaijan, officials said.

It has been regarded as the worst tremor to strike Turkey this century and was followed in the early afternoon by another large quake of magnitude 7.7.

The Tribeca shipping agency said in a notice that the BTC terminal at Ceyhan that exports Azeri crude oil will be closed through Wednesday pending damage assessments. Azerbaijan uses the Turkish port of Ceyhan as its main crude export hub, with a flow of about 650,000 barrels per day.

According to Reuters, following Monday’s earthquake, Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) also halted flows through the pipeline it operates that runs from Iraq’s northern Kirkuk fields to Ceyhan, the region’s ministry of natural resources (MNR) said.

The KRG had been pumping 400,000 barrels per day, and Iraq’s federal government was pumping 75,000 barrels per day through the pipeline.

It was also reported that oil exports would resume after a “careful inspection of the pipelines is finalised,” the MNR said in a statement.

Also supporting prices was the prospect for China’s recovery after the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions continued to drive the value of the commodity.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects half of this year’s global oil demand growth to come from China. The agency’s chief, Mr Fatih Birol, disclosed this on Sunday, adding that jet fuel demand was surging.

“If demand goes up very strongly, if the Chinese economy rebounds, then there will be a need, in my view, for the OPEC+ countries to look at their (output) policies,” Mr Birol said, referring to a call of action for the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, OPEC+.

The 23-man group decided to cut output by 2 million barrels a day from November through 2023 instead of pumping more to cut fuel prices and help the global economy, as the US advised.

Also, price caps on Russian products took effect on Sunday, with Group of Seven (G7) nations, the European Union and Australia agreeing on price limits of $100 a barrel on diesel and other products that trade at a premium to crude and $45 a barrel for products that trade at a discount, such as fuel oil.

The price ceilings, together with an EU ban on Russian oil product imports, are part of a broader agreement among the Group of Seven (G7) countries. It follows a $60 per barrel cap on Russian crude that G7 countries imposed on December 5 as the G7, the EU and Australia seek to limit the country’s ability to fund its war in Ukraine.

Both caps prohibit Western insurance, shipping and other companies from financing, insuring, trading, brokering or carrying cargoes of Russian crude and oil products unless they were bought at or below the set price caps.

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