Oil climbs on tight supply, though EU ban on Russian supply still uncertain

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Oil prices rose on Thursday, extending a cautious rally this week on signs of tight supply while the European Union (EU) wrangles with Hungary over plans to ban imports from Russia, the world’s second-largest crude exporter, after it invaded Ukraine.

Brent crude futures for July settlement gained 47 cents, to $114.50 a barrel.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for July delivery climbed 53 cents, to $110.86 a barrel.

A bigger-than-expected drawdown in U.S. crude inventories in the week to May 20, following soaring exports, buoyed the market on Wednesday. Analysts said the inventory draw and the prospect of an EU embargo on Russian oil, in retaliation for what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, were pushing prices higher.

Meanwhile, European Council President Charles Michel on Wednesday said he is confident that an agreement can be reached before the council’s next meeting on May 30.

However, Hungary remains a stumbling block to the unanimous support needed for EU sanctions. Hungary is pressing for about 750 million euros ($800 million) to upgrade its refineries and expand a pipeline from Croatia to enable it to switch away from Russian oil.

Even without a formal ban, much less Russian oil is available to the market as buyers and trading houses avoid dealing with crude and fuel suppliers from the country.




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