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Supply Issues, Easing Bank Fears, Drive Oil Prices up Again

Oil rose for a third straight session on Wednesday as a halt to some exports from Iraqi Kurdistan raised concerns of tightening supply, and as easing fears of a global banking crisis supported risk sentiment in the wider markets.

Crude exports of 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) from Iraq’s semi-autonomous northern Kurdistan region were halted on Saturday following an arbitration decision that confirmed Baghdad’s consent was needed to ship the oil.

Brent crude was up 72 cents, or 0.9%, to $79.37 U.S. a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate U.S. crude increased 88 cents, or 1.2%, to $74.08.

On Wednesday, Norwegian oil firm DNO said it had begun shutting down production at its fields in Kurdistan. The company’s Tawke and Peshkabir fields averaged output of 107,000 bpd in 2022, a quarter of total Kurdish exports.

Also helping sentiment were easing worries over the banking sector after weeks of volatility in the market that had sent oil to a 15-month low on March 20, with investor nerves soothed by the sale of assets in collapsed lender Silicon Valley Bank.

Oil also gained support from a drop in U.S. crude inventories. According to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Tuesday, crude stocks fell by 6.1 million barrels.