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China says no immediate plan to intervene as oil prices soar

© BloombergChinese President Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping

China has no immediate plan to intervene in oil markets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the foreign ministry.

When asked if China would be willing to release crude from its strategic reserves should the US seek more coordinated sales to quell prices, a spokesperson said on Thursday that Beijing would consider a move only when the geopolitical situation has stabilised.

Global benchmark Brent topped $100 a barrel this week to hit the highest level since 2014 on concern that the assault on Ukraine would disrupt energy exports at a time of already tight supplies. While US President Joe Biden opted to exempt Russian energy flows from sanctions, he raised the prospect of a US oil release from its strategic reserves in coordination with other nations.

All countries are jointly responsible for the security and stability of global energy supplies, and should avoid affecting that through regional tensions, the spokesperson said. No one answered calls or a fax sent to the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration.

While China was on-board with a Biden-led joint release of crude last November, it was still ironing out details on when and how much to disburse in January after the US and other nations including Japan and tapped stockpiles.

Last month, Reuters reported that China would release oil around the Lunar New Year period. Separately, Chinese traders had told Bloomberg News that they expected the release to happen after the holidays.

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