LONDON: Oil prices were steady on Thursday as the U.S. president met other Western leaders and investors waited to see how sanctions would be tightened on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Benchmark Brent was up 0.3% at $121.95 a barrel by 1111 GMT, after falling by close to $2 earlier in the session. U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was little changed at $114.96 a barrel, after also shedding $2 earlier.
U.S. President Biden was meeting NATO leaders in Brussels for emergency talks as the Ukraine war entered a second month. Biden and European leaders plan to announce additional sanctions against Russia.
Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch said sanctions were unlikely to have a major impact on the oil market because they "will probably not include an oil embargo by the EU, as a number of countries that are heavily depend on Russian oil — such as Germany — have opposed this."
The United States and Britain, both far less reliant on Russian crude, have both announced sanctions on oil imports.
Oil prices have posted steep gains this week. Brent has climbed more than $14 while WTI is up more than $10 a barrel.
Oil prices headed for weekly loss, but stay well above $100/bbl
U.S. crude in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) fell to its lowest since May 2002, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday, surprising market participants who had expected a modest rise.
Adding to concerns about available supply, slow progress in talks on a deal between world powers and Iran over Tehran's nuclear work means prospects for Iranian crude returning to the market have been pushed back.
"Unless Iran is allowed back to the market quickly it is hard to see how further price increase, potentially above the recent peaks, can be avoided," PVM oil broker Tamas Varga said.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Wednesday the United States and its allies had made progress in Iran nuclear talks but issues remained.
"A lifting of Iranian export restrictions would help alleviate the immense tightness prevalent in crude markets right now," consultancy JBC Energy said in a note, adding that Iran was already preparing to a ramp-up exports.
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