Oil prices go down amid Middle East peace efforts


Crude oil prices edged lower on Monday amid peace efforts in the Middle Easy and prospects of a diplomatic solution to the Israel-Gaza conflict.
As of 1330 hours GMT, Brent, the international benchmark for two-thirds of the world’s oil, shed $0.81 (-0.99 percent) to reach $81.38 a barrel. Similarly, the West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the main oil benchmark for North America, went down by $0.69 (-0.90 percent) to $76.15 a barrel.
On the other hand, the price of Arab Light increased by $1.36 (+1.69 percent) to reach $81.79 a barrel. Similarly, the price of Russian Sokol increased by $1.32 (+1.80 percent) to $74.72. Following suit, the price for Opec Basket increased to $81.45 a barrel with an uptick of $1.30 (+1.62 percent).
At the weekend, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian visited Beirut for talks with senior figures, including Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri, as well as Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah. “Iran and Lebanon confirm that war is not the solution and that we absolutely never sought to expand it,” Amirabdollahian said after meeting his Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the kingdom had a “huge cushion” of spare oil capacity in case of major disruption to global supplies. The kingdom’s decision to abandon its oil capacity expansion plans was driven by the energy transition, the minister was quoted as saying by media outlets.
Last month, Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporting company, scrapped plans to boost production capacity to 13 million barrels per day by 2027, from 12 million bpd currently. At the moment, Saudi Arabia is producing only 9 million bpd as part of Opec+ supply cuts, making it the largest holder of spare capacity in the world.
In December, Opec+ producers agreed to voluntary output cuts totalling about 2.2 million bpd for the first quarter of this year, in addition to 3.66 million bpd of supply reductions agreed by the group earlier. Iraq, Opec’s second-largest producer, is committed to the decisions and is producing no more than 4 million bpd currently, the country’s Oil Minister Hayan Abdel Ghani was quoted as saying by media. Iraq’s current crude oil exports fluctuate between 3.35 million and 3.4 million bpd, he added. Opec and the International Energy Agency are expected to release their monthly oil market reports this week.