Crude Firms on Geopolitical Tension, but Saudis See a "Stable" Market Ahead
22 March, 2018, 02:18 | Author: Teresa Adams
"Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran gave prices some support", said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta in a note.
Both benchmarks posted a daily gain of more than three percent, and reached their highest level since February 2.
Analysts also pointed to the nomination of Mike Pompeo as new U.S. Secretary of State as a risk to oil markets, given that he fiercely opposed the Iranian nuclear deal as a member of Congress.
Soaring US output, as well as rising output in Canada and Brazil, is undermining efforts by the Middle East dominated Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) to curb supplies and bolster prices. Meanwhile, industry data was said to signal an unexpected decline in American crude inventories last week. In other words, markets are still being moved more by sentiment than fact.
"Geopolitical risks and uncertainties are rising in the market as the US and Saudi Arabia share the same interest, which is isolating Iran", Will Yun, a commodities analyst at Hyundai Futures Corp., said by phone in Seoul.
Bearish concerns have largely been fueld by surging US crude output.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 gained $1.63, or 2.6 percent, to settle at $65.17, their highest since February 2.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $62.03 a barrel down 31 cents, or 0.5 percent, from their previous close, while Brent crude futures were at $65.88 per barrel, down 33 cents, or 0.5 percent.
Refinery crude runs rose 410,000 bpd and refinery utilization rates jumped 1.7 percentage points to 91.7 percent of total capacity, EIA data showed.
The U.S.' increasing arms sales to Saudi Arabia also raises concerns that tensions between the Kingdom and Iran could threaten the security of oil supplies from the region. Brent is the benchmark for several Middle East and other global crudes.
US crude oil inventories were down 2.6 million barrels to 428.3 million last week, said the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its weekly report on Wednesday.
If Trump decides to exit the deal under which worldwide measures were removed on Iran in return for a curbing of its nuclear program, it would likely be welcomed by Saudi Arabia, which regards the deal as a boon for its regional foe. If the USA imposes fresh sanctions on Iran, the country's capacity to export crude oil is likely to be crippled as a result.
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