Oil prices and Saudi Aramco shares soar as fighting in Ukraine continues

Oil prices have hit nearly $120 a barrel as the war in Ukraine continues to impact the global economy.

Brent crude, which is considered the global benchmark for oil prices, was trading above $119 a barrel as of 2:43 a.m. ET. The price dropped to over $112 later in the day, according to MarketWatch.

Shares in Saudi state-owned oil company Aramco also hit a record high of around 45 riyals ($12) per share today, according to Markets Insider.

Saudi media Arab News reported that Aramco’s value had reached $2.3 trillion, making it the second most valuable company in the world after Apple.

Why is this important: The Russian invasion of Ukraine last week created a ripple effect on global energy markets. The price of Brent soared to over $100 a barrel at the start of the war.

The world’s major energy producers have so far resisted calls from the United States and others to increase production in a bid to lower prices. Saudi Arabia, Russia and other members of the OPEC+ alliance decided at a meeting this week to maintain current production levels.

The war also had effects on other commodities. Egypt, which buys most of its wheat from Russia, tries to buy the grain from other countries. Many Lebanese are also concerned about wheat shortages, as they mainly import wheat from Ukraine. Turkey announced today that it is reducing its wheat purchases due to high prices. Many Middle Eastern states also depend on Ukraine and Russia for sunflower oil..

And after: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today that Russia will continue its war in Ukraine until “the end”, rejecting condemnation from the United Nations and most countries around the world.

US President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address this week that the United States was working with 30 other countries to free up oil reserves. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke yesterday with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, but there was no indication that they discussed oil prices in a State Department statement.

Steve R. Hansen