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Turmoil as Russia Invades Ukraine




By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA

Massive risk-aversion is sweeping through financial markets on Thursday in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian offensive started in the early hours of the morning in Europe and has been occurring across the country. The mood turned increasingly negative as the morning progressed, with headlines and images displaying the atrocities taking place in Ukraine.

The knee-jerk reaction has been severe across the board and with the situation deteriorating by the hour, we could see further risk-aversion over the coming days. There remains huge uncertainty about how far Russia will go in Ukraine and what the knock-on effects will be across the globe, which could continue to weigh heavily on risk appetite.

This comes at a time when the global economy was already facing numerous challenges as it emerges from the pandemic. There will no doubt be consequences for the global economy, with recent moves in the oil and gas market compounding those pressures that were already being felt by households and businesses this year.

It also creates enormous uncertainty for central banks around the world as, on the one hand, higher oil and gas prices will intensify the inflationary pressures that they’re already trying to fight with rate hikes. But on the other hand, if they suppress economic activity and weigh on demand, it could help alleviate some of those pressures they’re most concerned about.

As it stands, we’re not seeing any massive shift in interest rate expectations but that could change if energy prices continue to rise in response to the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine. In many ways, Russia has passed the point of no return as painful economic sanctions are coming. Just how painful that will be for them and the rest of the world is still to be determined.

Oil above $100 and could keep going

Oil prices are soaring in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as traders are forced to price in sizeable risk premiums associated with the conflict. The market is already extremely tight and unable to easily contend with supply issues and, barring a shift in approach from certain producers with excess capacity, that’s not going to change.

With oil prices well above $100 – up around 7% on the day – and gas prices surging once more, the question becomes just how far they will go. There’s enormous uncertainty around how bad the situation will become in Ukraine and what impact that will have on supplies of oil and gas. The knee-jerk reaction has been strong and we could see prices settle if no further major escalations occur. Unfortunately, that’s a massive “if” given how today has progressed.

Gold could eye highs after the invasion

Gold prices are spiking as traders are drawn to the traditional safe haven in these turbulent times. The conflict in Ukraine brings enormous uncertainty which strengthens gold’s appeal as both a safe haven and an inflation hedge. The price has already hit its highest level since September 2020 and could have further levels in its sights.

The next big test will be $2,000, where it has only traded above briefly in August 2020, hitting a high that month around $2,072. The worse the situation becomes in Ukraine, the more likely it is that we’ll see those levels once more.

Bitcoin suffers as traders head for safety

Bitcoin has come under significant pressure on Thursday as events in Ukraine have punished risk assets. It’s down more than 5% on the day but is a little off its lows. It didn’t quite fall as low as $33,000 to test the January bottom but that could come if the situation in Ukraine deteriorates further. Investors are scrambling for safe havens and it’s clear that bitcoin doesn’t fall into that category. If $33,000 does fall, attention will shift back to $30,000 which will be a major test. A break of this would be a massive psychological blow.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Remain Steady Ahead of U.S. Inflation Data



Crude Oil

Oil prices were holding steady on Friday as investors awaited the release of key U.S. inflation data that could provide clues on future interest rate moves.

Brent crude oil, the international benchmark for Nigerian oil, which has risen by almost 6% this week was up by 0.2% at $79.45 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose by 0.7% to $74.89.

Concerns about a full-blown global banking crisis have abated after banks in the U.S. and Europe were rescued, and oil prices have broadly recouped losses that followed the largest bank failures since the 2008 financial crisis.

Oil prices have also been supported by the shutdown or reduction of output at several oilfields in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq following a halt to the northern export pipeline.

Data has shown that U.S. crude oil stockpiles have fallen to a two-year low while China’s manufacturing activity rose in March.

Investors are now waiting for the U.S. personal consumption expenditures (PCE) figures due later today to decipher market direction. Economists polled by Reuters expect the core PCE index to ease to 0.4% in February from January and stay broadly steady on an annual basis at 4.7%.

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill intended to boost U.S. oil and gas production while scaling back climate initiatives.

Sources have suggested that with oil prices recovering from recent lows, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia are likely to stick to their existing deal to cut oil output at a meeting on Monday.

Investors will be closely monitoring the outcome of this meeting and any further developments that may impact oil prices.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Rise on Unexpected U.S. Crude Stockpile Drop and Halt in Iraqi Exports



Crude oil - Investors King

Oil prices increased on Thursday due to a surprise decline in U.S. crude stockpiles and a stoppage in exports from the Kurdistan region of Iraq that outweighed a smaller-than-expected cut in Russian supplies.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, climbed 0.51% to $78.68 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose 0.71% to $73.49 a barrel.

The Energy Information Administration revealed on Wednesday that U.S. crude oil stockpiles had dropped unexpectedly in the week ended March 24 to a two-year low.

Analysts had predicted a 100,000-barrel increase, but the inventory dropped by 7.5 million barrels.

Also, exports from Iraq’s northern region remained suspended due to oilfield producers shutting down or decreasing production following a stoppage to the northern export pipeline.

The Kurdistan-Iraq premium in oil prices, however, may vanish sooner than anticipated, as analysts from Citi predicted that pipeline flows could grow by around 200,000 barrels per day due to changes in Iraq’s domestic politics, which could lead to a durable political settlement.

Although the lower-than-expected cut to Russian crude oil production caused bearish sentiment, it was offset by the unexpected U.S. crude stockpile drop and halt in Iraqi exports.

The 300,000 barrels per day production decline in the first three weeks of March represented around 5% of Russian output, compared to targeted cuts of 500,000 barrels per day.

UBS stated that they anticipate rising Chinese crude imports and lower Russian production to boost prices over the coming quarters, despite the potential for near-term volatility in oil prices.

Meanwhile, markets will keep an eye on U.S. spending and inflation data scheduled for Friday and their impact on the value of the U.S. dollar.

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Crude Oil

NNPCL Intensifies Oil Exploration, Targets 50 Billion Barrels Reserves



NNPC - Investors King

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL has intensified efforts to boost the nation’s crude oil reserves to 50 billion barrels.

Investors King gathered that the NNPCL has drawn out plans to move from the 37 billion barrels of oil reserves to 50 billion barrels through its recent projects.

This is as the national oil company launched officially the spud-in (drilling) for crude oil in the Ebenyi-A Well in Obi Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.

Speaking at the event on Tuesday, the Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPCL, Mele Kyari stated that the new drilling rig at the Ebenyi-A Well site will increase Nigeria’s oil output to about three million barrels per day.

In November 2022, the national oil company inaugurated the Kolmani oil well located between Bauchi and Gombe states to also improve the nation’s oil reserves, Investors King recalls.

Kyari noted that the Ebenyi-A Well will greatly aid the NNPCL in attaining its 50 million barrels oil reserves target.

He spoke on the collaboration between NNPC Limited and Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NURPC) for better oil exploration activities through the use of technology for the nation’s frontier basins which cuts across the Chad Basin, Upper and Lower Benue troughs, Bida Basin, the Sokoto Basin, Dahomey, Anambra platform, Calabar embankment and the Ultra deep water Niger Delta.

Kyari disclosed that the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari on the mobilisation for re-entry into the Chad Basin had been enacted and the entry had begun. 

Buhari, who addressed the attendees virtually said the Ebenyi-A Well of the Middle Benue Trough will further aid the exploration of crude and gas in the frontier basins across Nigeria.

He commended the efforts of the NNPCL and support of the government and people of Nasarawa State towards the success of the oil exploration

His words, “Today’s occasion marks the official commencement of exploration drilling activities in the Middle Benue Trough. This is consistent with the commercial discoveries of hydrocarbons in the Kolmani Area of the Upper Benue Trough.

“I am pleased to note that activities are currently ongoing to develop the Kolmani petroleum discoveries to commercial production to add to the nation’s considerable hydrocarbon assets.

“The consequent positive outcomes of these drilling campaigns will lead to greater prosperity for our people and especially enhance overall energy security for our country.”

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