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Oil Rises On Ukraine Tension, U.S. Sanctions

Renewed tension in Ukraine and the announcement that the U.S. will impose new sanctions on Russia allowed oil prices to recapture ground that had been lost over the last few weeks.

As the crisis has intensified, oil prices have responded. Brent futures for June were up 0.6 percent during trading on April 28, to $110.20 per barrel. June delivery for West Texas Intermediate crude jumped 92 cents, to $101.52 per barrel, after dropping 3.6 percent last week.

After pro-Russian forces seized international monitors last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry blasted Moscow for its failure to live up to the international accord agreed upon in Geneva earlier this month. The Russian move also gave the U.S. and EU the justification it needed to ratchet up sanctions. According to NATO, Russia has positioned 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian border.

Since then, the town of Lugansk, Ukraine declared its independence from Kiev, with pro-Russian forces declaring it the “Lugansk People’s Republic.” They announced that a referendum would be held May 11 on the question of formally joining Russia.

Related Article: Putin is Losing Eastern European Energy Gamble

The mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, was also shot in the back and remains in critical condition. Kharkiv is in Ukraine’s east, where pro-Russian forces hold sway. The mayor had recently announced support for the new government in Kiev.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced new sanctions on April 28 against several members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and companies considered close to the Kremlin.

In all, the sanctions consist of travel bans and asset freezes on seven Russian officials and asset freezes on 17 companies. In addition to several banks, the list includes Igor Sechin, president of Russia’s massive state owned oil company, Rosneft.

The U.S. said it would also prohibit exports of high-tech equipment that could be important to Russian military forces. The EU is expected to follow up with similar sanctions and has already met to discuss the details.

By James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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