G7 to implement Russian oil price cap 'urgently'

G7 to implement Russian oil price cap 'urgently'
The G7 is working towards a "broad coalition" of support for implementing a price cap on Russian oil imports. This is deemed as an important step to stop financing Russia’s war on Ukraine though oil and Gaz profits.
4 min read
02 September, 2022
The adoption of a price cap could lead to a significant destabilization of the oil markets. [Getty Images]

G7 industrialised powers vowed Friday to move urgently towards implementing a price cap on Russian oil imports in a bid to cut off a major source of funding for Moscow's war in Ukraine.

The G7 said it was working towards a "broad coalition" of support for the measure but officials in France urged caution, saying a final decision could only be taken once all 27 members of the European Union had given their assent.

Households on the continent have borne the brunt of rising energy prices, with governments under pressure to alleviate the pain of the resulting high inflation.

"Russia is benefitting economically from the uncertainty on energy markets caused by the war and is making big profits from the export of oil and we want to counter that decisively," German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said in a press conference after the move was announced.

The aim of the price cap on oil exports was to "stop an important source of financing for the war of aggression and contain the rise in global energy prices", he added.

Ahead of Friday's decision, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov sounded a clear warning.

The adoption of a price cap "will lead to a significant destabilization of the oil markets," and force American and European consumers to pay the price, he said.

And Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak had warned on Thursday that Moscow would "simply not supply oil and petroleum products to companies or states that impose restrictions," according to Russian news agencies.

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'Powerful tool' 

At a summit in June, the G7 leaders agreed to work towards implementing the ceiling on crude sales.

In their statement, finance ministers from the G7 said they would "urgently work on the finalisation and implementation" of the long-considered measure, without specifying the cap level.

The price cap was "one of the most powerful tools we have to fight inflation and protect workers and businesses in the United States", US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement Friday.

She said the measure already was beginning to influence prices, with countries that have not yet committed to join the cap able to negotiate lower prices from Russia.

"We're already seeing this initiative pay off because countries that are buying Russian oil are signing deals with Russia to sell oil at greatly discounted prices," Yellen said on MSNBC.

She said the capped price "will be set at a level that will continue to make it profitable for Russia to produce," rather than follow through on Moscow's threat to shut-in their oil and keep it off world markets.

The G7 move would block Russia from getting any kind of service, including maritime insurance, on its petroleum shipments unless the product is sold at or below the cap, she explained.

And Yellen noted that G7 countries provide the vast majority of such services, including maritime insurance, 90 per cent of which come from Britain and the EU.

A senior US Treasury official told reporters that the cap would include three prices, one for crude oil and two for refined petroleum products.

The French finance ministry said technical work on the price cap was still in progress.

"It is clear that no final decision can be taken until we have consulted and obtained unanimous support from all 27 member states of the European Union," it said.

"We support all measures that reduce the income that Russia derives from the sale of oil," French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire added.

EU Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said the bloc aims to find a deal by December 5 for crude oil and February 5 for petroleum products.

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 'Broad coalition'

The G7 also voiced ambition to extend the measure beyond the bloc, saying it was seeking to form a "broad coalition" of support for the oil price cap to "maximise" the effectiveness of the measure.

The ministers urged "all countries that still seek to import Russian oil and petroleum products to commit to doing so only at prices at or below the price cap".

The push to get as many countries as possible to go along with the cap is expected to be a key topic for discussion by leaders at the G20 summit in Bali on November 15 and 16.

The initial cap would be set "at a level based on a range of technical inputs" the G7 ministers said, adding that its effectiveness would be "closely monitored".

Analysts warned, however, that the cap may yet fuel another rise in prices.

The cap would introduce new risks for the oil market by "potentially disrupting Russian energy supplies", Capital Economics analyst Liam Perch said in June. "This could push global energy prices up further."