Singapore (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Monday after a revolt by Russian mercenaries over the weekend raised concerns about political instability in Russia and the potential impact on oil supply from one of the world’s largest producers.
Brent and U.S. West Texas intermediate crude (WTI) futures were both up 0.4% on Monday, paring some gains after rising as much as 1.3% in early Asian trade. Brent was trading 27 cents higher at $74.12 a barrel at 0234 GMT, while WTI was up 28 cents at $69.44 a barrel.
A clash between Moscow and Russian mercenary group Wagner was averted on Saturday after the heavily armed mercenaries withdrew from the southern Russian city of Rostov under a deal that halted their rapid advance on the capital.
However, the challenge has raised questions about President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power and concerns about possible disruption of Russian oil supply.
Consultancy Rystad Energy said in a note late on Sunday it did not expect to see a significant increase in oil prices due to the “short-lived event.”
“We do, however, believe that the geopolitical risk amid internal instability in Russia has increased,” Rystad said.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Helima Croft said there were concerns that Putin would declare martial law, preventing workers from showing up to major loading ports and energy facilities, potentially halting millions of barrels of exports.
“It is our understanding that the White House was actively engaged yesterday in reaching out to key domestic and foreign producers about contingency planning to keep the market well supplied if the crisis impacted Russian output,” she added in a note on Sunday.
Goldman Sachs analysts said markets may price a moderately higher probability that domestic volatility in Russia leads to supply disruptions. However, the impact may be limited because spot fundamentals have not changed, the analysts added.
Both Brent and WTI fell about 3.6% last week on worries that further interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve could sap oil demand at a time when China’s economic recovery has also disappointed investors after several months of softer-than-expected consumption, production and property market data.
“China’s economic growth has been a nightmare for commodity markets, particularly in oil and industrial metals,” CMC Markets analyst Tina Teng said in a note.