Tuesday, October 3, 2023
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Oil prices jump over Kazakhstan unrest

LONDON (AFP) – Unrest in OPEC+ member Kazakhstan has pushed up oil prices as investors fear supply interruptions, but the uranium market appears less affected despite the Central Asian country being the world’s second largest producer.

“Riots obviously can stop production and exports,” said Swedish bank SEB analyst Bjarne Schieldrop.

Over the week, crude prices gained about five per cent and on Friday Brent exceeded USD83 per barrel, “putting it at its highest level since the price slide triggered by the first appearance of the Omicron variant in late November”, said Commodities Analyst at Commerzbank Carsten Fritsch.

Protests spread across the country of 19 million this week in outrage over a New Year increase in prices for liquid petroleum gas (LPG), which many use to fuel cars.

Thousands took to the streets in Almaty and in the western province of Mangystau in protests that broadened to include anti-government slogans.

A burnt car lies in front of the city hall building in Almaty, Kazakhstan. PHOTO: AFP

Violence erupted when police fired tear gas and stun grenades at thousands protesting in Almaty on Tuesday.

The next day protesters stormed government buildings, setting them ablaze, and a nationwide state of emergency was declared.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Friday rejected calls for talks with protesters after days of unprecedented unrest, authorising his forces to shoot to kill without warning.

The country is the largest oil producer in central Asia with a 12th of the world’s proven reserves, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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