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Oil Rises on EUs Russian Oil Ban Effort, Demand Hopes

  • EU ministers fail to persuade Hungary to agree Russian oil ban
  • Shanghai achieves COVID-19 milestone
  • U.S. crude inventories likely rose last week, products seen down

LONDON, May 17 (Reuters) – Oil hit its highest in seven weeks on Tuesday, supported by the European Union’s ongoing push for a ban on Russian oil imports that would tighten supply and as investors focused on higher demand from an easing of China’s COVID lockdowns.

EU foreign ministers failed on Monday in their effort to pressure Hungary to lift its veto on the proposed oil embargo. But some diplomats now point to a May 30-31 summit as the moment for agreement on a phased ban on Russian oil. 

Brent crude rose as high as $115.50, its highest since March 28, and by 1024 GMT was up $1.16, or 1%, to $115.40. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude gained 78 cents, or 0.7%, to $114.98.

“Oil prices have remained near multi-week highs this week, supported by surging gasoline and distillate prices in the U.S., and fears around an EU ban on Russian oil imports remaining in play,” said Jeffrey Halley, analyst at brokerage OANDA.

Crude has surged in 2022, with Brent hitting $139, its highest since 2008, in early March as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exacerbated supply concerns.

Oil also gained support from hopes of demand recovery in China as it looks to ease COVID restrictions, analysts said, and from rising geopolitical tension between the EU and Russia following Sweden and Finland’s moves to join NATO.

Shanghai on Tuesday achieved the long-awaited milestone of three consecutive days with no new COVID-19 cases outside quarantine zones and set out on Monday its clearest timetable yet for exiting a lockdown now in its seventh week. 

Also in focus are potential further declines in U.S. fuel inventories. Weekly inventory reports are expected to show a rise in crude stocks and declines in inventories of distillates and gasoline.

The first report, from the American Petroleum Institute is due at 2030 GMT.

Additional reporting by Isabel Kua in Singapore and Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter

Source: Reuters