Oil Prices Down On Gaza Ceasefire Talks


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) The Peninsula

Doha, Qatar: Oil prices slipped on Friday and were flat on the week as the possibility of a ceasefire in Gaza weakened crude benchmarks, while the war in Europe and shrinking US rig count cushioned the fall. Brent futures for May delivery settled at $85.43, losing 35 cents. US crude closed at $80.63 a barrel, falling 44 cents. Both benchmarks logged less a than 1% change on the week, noted Al-Attiyah Foundation in its Weekly Energy Market Review.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday he believed talks in Qatar could reach a Gaza ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas. The conflict in Eastern Europe also kept oil prices from moving lower. Russia launched the largest missile and drone attack on Ukrainian energy infrastructure of the war to date on Friday, hitting the country's largest dam and causing blackouts in several regions, Kyiv said. However, chatter has emerged within the market that Russia would further discount its barrels in light of the escalation, analysts said.

A steeper discount could make Russian crude more attractive to international buyers. Meanwhile, the US dollar was set for a second week of broad gains after the Swiss National Bank's surprise interest rate cut on Thursday bolstered global risk sentiment.

Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices edged up this week to a six-week high amid supply concerns and following some spot demand pickup from buyers. The average LNG price rose 8% from the previous week to $9.40 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), its highest level since February 9, industry sources estimated.

Asian spot prices had eased to a near three-year low of $8.30 per mmBtu last month, as ample inventory levels amid mild winter weather weighed on prices. Cheaper spot LNG boosted demand from Asian buyers, lending some support to prices.

In Europe, a cold snap is forecasted to begin this weekend and extend into early next week, which is expected to sustain net withdrawals from storage sites on an aggregated basis.

In the US, natural gas futures eased about 1% to a one-week closing low on Friday on forecasts for milder weather over the next two weeks than previously expected, ample gas in storage and expectations gas flows to liquefied natural gas export plants would remain low through May due to outages at Freeport LNG's plant in Texas. Freeport LNG anticipated two of the three liquefaction trains at its export plant will remain out of service for repairs through May.

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