© Reuters. Flags are pictured during the first working session of G-7 foreign ministers in Muenster, Germany, November 3, 2022. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/Pool
By Andrea Shalal, Noah Browning and Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON/LONDON (Reuters) – The Group of Seven rich nations and Australia have agreed to set a fixed price when they finalize a price cap on Russian oil later this month, rather than adopting a floating rate, sources said on Thursday.
U.S. officials and G7 countries have been in intense negotiations in recent weeks over the unprecedented plan to put a price cap on sea-borne oil shipments, which is scheduled to take effect on Dec. 5 – to ensure EU and U.S. sanctions aimed at limiting Moscow’s ability to fund its invasion of Ukraine do not throttle the global oil market.
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“The Coalition has agreed the price cap will be a fixed price that will be reviewed regularly rather than a discount to an index,” said a coalition source, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “This will increase market stability and simplify compliance to minimize the burden on market participants.”
The initial price itself has not been set, but should be in coming weeks, multiple sources said. Coalition partners agreed to regularly review the fixed price and revise it as needed, the source said, without disclosing further details.
Pegging the price as a discount to some index would have resulted in too much volatility and potential price swings, the source added.
The coalition worried that a floating price pegged below the international benchmark might enable Russian President Vladimir Putin to game the mechanism by reducing supply, a second source with knowledge of the discussions said.
Putin could benefit from a floating price system because the price for his country’s oil would also rise if Brent spiked due to a cut in oil from Russia, one of the world’s largest petroleum producers. The downside of the agreed fixed price system is that it will require more meetings of the coalition and bureaucracy to review it regularly, the source said.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other G7 officials argue the price cap, set to begin Dec. 5 on crude and Feb. 5 on oil products, will squeeze funding to Russia without cutting supply to consumers. Russia has said it will refuse to ship oil to countries that set price caps.
Shipping services are eager to see more details about the G7 plan which is due to take effect in a month.
A steady price cap could enable insurers to more confidently roll over contracts and initiate new ones without fear that the price could be adjusted by the countries buying Russian oil, which could have potentially exposed insurers to sanctions.
No immediate comment was available from Treasury or the embassies of coalition members, which include the G7 rich nations, the European Union and Australia.