Oil prices headed for weekly gains as Israel rejects ceasefire offer

By Thomson Reuters Feb 8, 2024 | 7:40 PM

By Stephanie Kelly

(Reuters) – Oil prices rose in early trade on Friday, on track for weekly gains, with tensions persisting in the Middle East after Israel rejected a ceasefire offer from Hamas.

Brent futures climbed 8 cents, or 0.1%, to $81.71 a barrel by 0119 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 17 cents, or 0.2%, to $76.39 a barrel.

Oil prices rose about 3% in the previous session as Israeli forces bombed the southern border city of Rafah on Thursday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a proposal to end the war in the Palestinian enclave.

The tensions have kept oil prices elevated, with Brent and WTI both set to gain 5.7% for the week.

U.S. officials made their most pointed criticism so far of Israel’s civilian casualties in Gaza as it turned the focus of its offensive to Rafah.

A Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo on Thursday for ceasefire talks with mediators Egypt and Qatar.

While the conflict has propped up prices, there has been no impact on oil production.

However, with the Ukraine conflict, a combination of drone attacks on Russian refineries and technical outages have led the country to export more crude than it planned in February, which could undermine its pledge to curb sales under an OPEC+ pact.

Under the deal with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, called OPEC+, Russia committed to capping crude output at 9.5 million barrels per day (bpd). It is also voluntarily cutting crude exports by 300,000 bpd and fuel exports by 200,000 bpd from the average May-June level.

(Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Sonali Paul)