BRUSSELS — European Union ambassadors trying to reach an agreement on a top price for Russian oil continued to talk into Thursday evening, despite expectations that a deal was within reach.
The negotiations over the price cap on Russian oil sales, a policy led by the Group of 7 industrialized nations and other close allies of Ukraine, have been going on for more than a week at the seat of the European Union.
Negotiators from the 27 E.U. member nations need to agree on a price unanimously. The latest discussions were around a price point of $60 per barrel, several diplomats and officials said. That is lower than what was originally suggested by the G7, a victory for hard-line pro-Ukraine nations like Poland that wanted a lower price to limit Russian oil revenues.
A near-total embargo on Russian oil comes into force on Dec. 5 in the European Union. E.U. insurers and tankers — which comprise half the global fleet — would no longer be allowed to offer their services to transport Russian oil. It would not apply to buyers of Russian oil, like China and India, if they ship and insure the cargoes with companies from countries outside of the group imposing the cap.
Fearing a global oil crunch, the United States championed the price cap policy, which would permit European tankers and insurers to continue facilitating Russian oil exports as long as the oil they are transporting or insuring is sold at or below the capped price.
The benefit of this approach, according to its promoters, is that Russia loses some revenue as the cap is set lower than what its oil typically fetches on the market, but it has an incentive to continue selling its crude because the price is still high enough to generate vital income. A cap would also prevent the price of Russian oil from rising above a certain point if global prices were to rally.
Russian oil, also known as Urals crude, has ranged in price between $60 and $65 per barrel over the past week, trading at a significant discount to other types of oil.
Poland and a handful of allies had been the last holdouts in the E.U. negotiations. They were pushing for as low a price as possible to limit the oil revenue that helps finance the war in Ukraine, as well as a frequent revision of the price and more sanctions against Russia.
By Thursday evening, those points had seemingly been secured and E.U. diplomats entered what they hoped would be their last round of talks before sealing a deal. But Poland asked for an extension, several E.U. diplomats and officials said.
Wally Adeyemo, the deputy U.S. Treasury secretary, said on Thursday that he was encouraged by signs that the European Union was coalescing around a price. “My view is that we’re going to get this deal done,” Mr. Adeyemo said at an event sponsored by Reuters, adding that he was optimistic that Poland would back an agreement that the rest of its allies would then ratify.
Polish diplomats expressed optimism that an agreement was within reach, while others complained that the process had already dragged out too long and threatened to make Ukraine’s European allies appear fragmented.
Alan Rappeport contributed reporting.
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