SINGAPORE, March 05, 2014: Oil prices were mixed
in Asia today as fears of an immediate armed conflict in Ukraine
receded, but analysts said the presence of Russian-backed troops
in the Crimean peninsula continue to support prices.
New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for
April delivery, rose 10 cents to $103.43 in afternoon trade,
while Brent North Sea crude for April eased 14 cents to $109.16.
WTI fell $1.59 in New York Tuesday after Russian President
Vladimir Putin declared in a news conference there was currently
“no need” to send troops into Ukraine.
European benchmark Brent tumbled $1.90 in London.
Breaking a week of silence after the ousting of Ukraine
president Viktor Yanukovych, Putin denied that he had sent
Russian troops to the Crimean peninsula and said the uniformed
men present there were “local forces of self-defence”.
Western leaders as well Ukraine’s interim government however
insist that the troops are backed by the Kremlin.
“With Russia stationing their troops in Crimea… these
should keep tensions high up in Ukraine and should give crude oil
some support,” Tan Chee Tat, investment analyst at Singapore-
based Phillip Futures, told AFP.
Tan said prices also gained support after Russia carried out
a successful test launch of an “advanced” intercontinental
ballistic missile Tuesday. A US defence official said the US was
informed of the test earlier this week.
The standoff between Moscow and the West over Ukraine has
been the main focus of oil investors this week as more than 70
percent of Russia’s oil exports to Europe pass through the ex-
Russia, which produced 10 million barrels a day in January,
vies with Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer, and
is the second-largest producer of natural gas.
Elsewhere, analysts said markets are digesting the Chinese
government’s annual economic growth target of around 7.5 percent
this year while also awaiting the latest US stockpile figures for
clues about energy demand in the world’s biggest economy.
The US Department of Energy will release its official
petroleum stockpiles report later Wednesday.