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oil: Oil rebounds as escalating Ukraine conflict raises supply concerns

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oil: Oil rebounds as escalating Ukraine conflict raises supply concerns

SINGAPORE: Oil prices rebounded on Friday as Western sanctions disrupted Russian oil exports, overshadowing the prospect of a possible nuclear deal providing Iran with more supplies.

May Brent crude futures were up $114.23 a barrel at $113.72 by 0121 GMT, up $3.26 or 3%. The contract fell 2.2% on Thursday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose $4.15, or 3.9%, to $111.82 a barrel in April after hitting a high of $112.84 earlier in the session. The contract fell 2.6% in the previous session.

Global markets fell after reports that one of Europe’s largest Ukrainian nuclear power plants caught fire following an attack by Russian troops, while oil prices rose on signs of an escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Russia is the world’s largest exporter of crude oil and petroleum products amid fears that Western sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine will disrupt shipments from Russia. Trading activity for Russian crude appears to have frozen as sanctions made buyers hesitant to buy.

“The increase in prices associated with actual and expected disruptions to Russian oil exports should be more than offset by a possible increase in Iranian crude supplies,” said Vivek Dhar, an analyst at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Prices traded in a $10 range on Thursday but ended lower for the first time in four sessions as investors focused on the restart of the Iran nuclear deal, which is expected to boost Iranian oil exports and ease global supply constraints.

Oil was set for its biggest weekly gain since mid-2020, with WTI up more than 22% and Brent rising 16% after hitting a 10-year high this week.

Commonwealth Bank’s Dhar expects Brent to average $110 a barrel in the second and third quarters of this year. However, “the risk is that prices are higher than our forecast in the short term. Brent could even trade as high as” $150, he said.

Negotiations over the resumption of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal appeared to be nearing a climax, as a U.N. report on Thursday suggested that Iran is most likely to accumulate enough enriched uranium to make a bomb if it is further purified.

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