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Oil Updates — Crude down; US offshore oil output to restart; Russian oil flows to Czech Republic resumed

RIYADH: Oil prices plunged around 2 percent on Friday, on expectations that supply disruptions in the US Gulf of Mexico would be short-term, while recession fears clouded the demand outlook.

Futures, however, were still on track for a weekly gain.

Brent crude futures fell $1.45, or 1.5 percent, to settle at $98.15 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate crude $2.25, or 2.4 percent, to settle at $92.09 a barrel. Both contracts gained more than 2 percent on Thursday.

US offshore oil output to restart after pipeline fix

A damaged oil pipeline component that disrupted output at several offshore US Gulf of Mexico platforms was repaired late Friday, a Louisiana official said, with producers moving to reactivate some of the halted production.

A failed flange connecting two onshore pipelines operated by Shell Plc in Louisiana leaked an estimated two barrels of oil. The oil, which spilled onto an area covered with gravel, has been removed, said Chett Chiasson, executive director of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, and the flange had been repaired by Friday evening, he said.

The spill halted the operation of two pipelines that bring oil from several production facilities off the Louisiana coast, curtailing about 600,000 barrels per day of output from Shell, Chevron Corp. and Equinor, according to two people familiar with offshore operations.

On Friday evening, the Amberjack and Mars pipelines that were stopped by the leak were back online and returning to normal service, after crews completed the repairs at the Fourchon booster station, Shell spokesperson Cindy Babski said.

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Shell is also in the process of ramping up production at its three platforms that deliver Mars sour crude, an oil grade popular with refiners in the US and Asia, Babski added.

Russian oil flows to Czech Republic have resumed

Russian oil flows to the Czech Republic through the Druzhba pipeline resumed after more than a week on Friday evening, Czech pipeline operator MERO said, as transit fee payments were unblocked.

Supplies via the Druzhba pipeline had been suspended to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia since Aug. 4 because Western sanctions prevented paying transit fees to Ukrainian transit company Ukrtransnafta, Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft said on Tuesday.

A European bank has agreed to process the payment for the transit of Russian oil through Ukraine, removing the cause of the stoppage.

“Supplies of Russian oil through the southern branch of the Druzhba pipeline on the Czech territory resumed at 8 p.m. today (Friday),” MERO said in a statement.

Czech refiner Unipetrol, a unit of Poland’s PKN Orlen, confirmed its refineries again started receiving oil through Druzhba and added the week-long outage had not affected its operations.

(With input from Reuters)