Oil markets have been relatively stable through the first half of January as the calendar slowly unfurls to 5 February when the European Union’s embargo on Russian refined products kicks in. For now, many market participants are still watching how Russia is adjusting to the impact of the 5 December crude oil embargo while trying to assess how disruptive the next phase of sanctions will be.

After Brent prices marked the new year with a swift $7/B drop, prices have since returned back to their year-opening $85/B levels amid improved global economic outlooks. This has also helped push the market structure back into a deeper backwardation, although a very slight front month contango persists. (CONTINUED - 815 WORDS)