Commodities News

Oil Prices Spike After U.S. Officials Say Ukraine Invasion Expected Next Week

(Updates with settlement prices)

By Barani Krishnan – Oil prices spiked Friday, with Brent hitting $95 a barrel and U.S. crude almost matching that on White House concerns that Russia will invade Ukraine soon.

Even so, WTI settled below the day’s highs and slightly down for the week after the White House walked back some of its own saber-rattling on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told a White House media briefing that a Russian attack on Ukraine could happen by next week and would likely begin with an air assault. Sullivan, however, added that the White House did not claim that Russian leader Vladimir Putin has made a final decision on the matter.

That caused oil prices to pull back from their earlier highs.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate settled up $3.22, or 3.6%, at $93.10 a barrel. WTI hit an intraday high of $94.65 earlier. For the week though, WTI was down 37 cents, or 0.3%, registering its first decline after seven straight week of gains.

London-traded Brent, the global benchmark for oil, hit a session high of $95.65 before settling at $94.44, up $2.98, or 3.3%. That put Brent up 1.3% for the week, giving it an eight straight week of gains.

Aside from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the International Energy Agency also rattled energy markets by warning that global oil supplies might be dangerously short of demand.

The Paris-based IEA in a monthly report on Friday, lifted its forecast for this year’s global oil demand by 800,000 barrels a day to 3.2 million barrels.

What’s more, it estimated there could be a billion barrels shortfall by the end of last year between what the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies — known as OPEC+ — were supposed to have pumped versus actual deliveries to the market since the start of 2021. 

“The oil market is incredibly tight,” Toril Bosoni, head of the IEA’s markets and industry division, said in a Bloomberg television interview on Friday. “Prices continue to surge and are now reaching levels that are uncomfortable for consumers across the world.”

Prior to the Russia-Ukraine brouhaha and the IEA warning, oil prices had lost more than 3% on the week — first on concerns that Iranian oil supplies could legitimately return to the market through a Tehran-West nuclear deal and later on fears that the Federal Reserve could impose rate hikes of as much as 0.5% a month over several months to curb runaway U.S. inflation.


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