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Oil calmly ends a turbulent year



(London) Oil prices remained flat on Friday for an unrepresentative final session in a year marked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, recession fears and the COVID-19 pandemic in China, which caused sharp movements over the months.

Around 6:15 a.m. (Eastern time) (12:15 p.m. in Paris), a barrel of Brent from the North Sea for delivery in March, of which this is the first day of use as a reference contract, grabbed 0 .06%, to $83.51.

Its American equivalent, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in February, lost 0.03% to 78.39 dollars.

Over the year, prices were up 7.5% for Brent and 4.2% for WTI. But they have lost almost 40% of their value from the peaks recorded in March, in the first weeks of the war in Ukraine.

Sanctions targeting Russia, one of the largest hydrocarbon producers in the world, initially sent prices soaring, but “fears about supply gave way to concerns about demand”, recalls Han Tan, an analyst at Exinity.

Prospects of recession across the world and tighter monetary policies weighed on prices.

“The coming year should be good for Brent, provided the Chinese recovery materializes,” said Tan.

China has lifted numerous measures aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19, but a new wave of contaminations in this country is fueling investor concern.

As for natural gas, the European benchmark, the Dutch TTF contract for delivery in February, yielded 5.46% to 79.25 euros per megawatt hour.

Over the year, the price of TTF increased by 12.6%, but it was divided by 4 compared to the peaks reached in March, at 345 euros.

“Contrary to what was expected, the European Union is cashing in on the reduction in supply from Russia,” note analysts at Berenberg.

“Even though Russia closed several key gas pipelines throughout the year, the EU has boosted its reserves to 10% above their average”, and “Europe is well prepared for the heating demand season “, they judge.

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