The $60 Russian oil price cap set, which went into effect this week, will make Russian President Vladimir Putin mad, but it won’t work.
It won’t significantly impact Russian oil revenues, as it doesn’t go far enough and isn’t fully enforceable either. Moreover, it could take the oil market for another wild ride.
That’s according to oil experts, investors, and geopolitical analysts.
Jay Young, the president of King Operating Corporation, and a fourth-generation oil and gas investor, is one of them.
Young notes the price caps will not achieve what the U.S. and its allies are hoping for: to cut Russia’s oil revenues and force Putin to end the war. He points to the fact that many big oil buyers like China and India have already been buying Russian oil at the $60 price. And they have announced their intention to continue to do so.
“This counters any possibility of being effective and will allow Russia to make more money than it would otherwise be getting,” said geopolitical analyst Irina Tsukerman.
“A much lower price cap would have put pressure on Russia as some states, such as India, have reportedly already filled their reserves.
“While others would cause economic loss by maxing out at the lowest possible price. Still, having only a few countries undermines the concept.”
Moreover, Tsukerman sees the price cap undermined by the need for more effective measures to enforce it.
“The European Union has yet to impose and enforce sanctions on some of the leading European institutions,” she said. “Gas trade remains one of Russia’s leading sources of income, and that will remain unaffected by any price caps.”
Young sees the caps undermined by the lack of full compliance by the oil shipping industry.
“The price caps are being enforced through U.K. insurance companies for tankers. That covers 95% of the tankers in the world,” he said. “A fleet of tankers outside is used for going around sanctions.”
Fanis Matsopoulos, an Athens-based oil market analyst and Counselor of the Greek Chamber of Commerce and Industry, thinks the $60 price cap is fair. It covers Russia’s total average cost of production, which ranges between $40 and $45 per barrel.
“The main point of the price cap is that it ‘legalizes’ large quantities of this precious commodity by allowing European insurance companies (P&I clubs and H&M) to insure vessels that carry oil which has been traded at the price (or less) of $60,” Matsopoulos said.
Moreover, Matsopoulos points out that it is very early to evaluate the effects of a price floor on the oil market. But he sees the potential of another round of wild price gyrations in oil prices.
“When political risk prevails, any predictions can become highly speculative. We are entering “unchartered waters. Meanwhile, we should keep in mind that a potential opening of negotiations between the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine, could tear down oil prices because, at this stage, expectations are more powerful than fundamentals…” Matsopoulos said.