Oil jumps at start of US session with Russia in the balance and Belgium joining Red Sea task force

  • WTI Oil jumps near 1% after Reuters reported overnight drone attacks in Russia.
  • Belguim is joining US/UK task force to attack Houthi rebels and enforce safe passage in the Red Sea.
  • The US Dollar Index caught at mid-103 level after traders repriced rate cut bets from March to May. 

Oil prices are in the green with surging tensions and calls for more premium to be priced into the oil prices. Russia might be forced to breach its production cut promises for OPEC even further with Ukraine attacking strategic oil storage sites inside Russia with self-made drones. Meanwhile things are stiring up again in Asia with Middle Eastern prices jumping as buyers favor Persian Gulf Crude because of the shorter route against the longer one around Africa or the risky one via the Red Sea.  

Meanwhile, the DXY US Dollar Index is caught in a difficult spot on the charts between two technical elements. The fact that the Greenback is unable to rally substantially comes with the rather small tweaking traders made to their positions, pushing back their rate cut bets from March to May. This makes the US Dollar able to strengthen a bit, but not substantially enough to move away from its current levels.

Crude Oil (WTI) trades at $74.30 per barrel, and Brent Oil trades at $79.11 per barrel at the time of writing. 

Oil News and Market Movers: Black Sea weather issues

  • Bad weather conditions in the Black Sea are taking out roughly 30 million barrels in delayed delivery for oil mainly out of Kazakhstan. 
  • Oil producing nations in the Persian Gulf are unable to follow demand with Asian buyers looking for Persian oil which is safer and does not need a risk premium priced in for a Red Sea passage or longer haul to get delivered. 
  • Earlier this week headlines were coming out already that Russia was not complying with its OPEC production cut agreements. To make matters worse, Ukraine has started a new phase in its offence by attacking key Oil installations in Russia with drones. This could force Russia to pump up more Oil for its own use.
  • The Energy Information Agency (EIA) released Crude Oil Stock changes for the US on Thursday, with a drawdown of 2.492 million barrels against a build of 1.338 million last week.
  • The drawdown could be a side effect of the frost in Texas where refiners need to draw from the Cushing reserves with a key import pipeline closed for deliveries in the region and LNG terminals closed under the severe weather conditions.
  • The week will get closed off with the Baker Hughes US Oil Rig Count near 18:00 GMT. Previously there was a count of 499.

Oil Technical Analysis: Risk premium to be added again

Oil prices are set to close this week off in the green for both this Friday and its weekly performance. The number of geopolitical tensions are only broadening now that the Houthi rebels and the US are at a direct conflict. With these new drone attacks from Ukraine into Russia, the risk of retaliation from Russia will enlarge and might lead to the use of unconventional weapons on the battlefield. 

On the upside, $74 continues to act as a line in the sand after yet another failed break above it on Friday last week.  Although quite far off, $80 comes into the picture should tensions build further. Once $80 is broken, $84 is next on the topside once Oil sees a few daily closes above the $80 level. 

Below $74, the $67 level could still come into play as the next support to trade at, as it aligns with a triple bottom from June. Should that triple bottom break, a new low for 2023 could be close at $64.35 – the low of May and March – as the last line of defence. Although still quite far off, $57.45 is worth mentioning as the next level to keep an eye on if prices fall sharply. 

US WTI Crude Oil: Daily Chart

US WTI Crude Oil: Daily Chart


What is WTI Oil?

WTI Oil is a type of Crude Oil sold on international markets. The WTI stands for West Texas Intermediate, one of three major types including Brent and Dubai Crude. WTI is also referred to as “light” and “sweet” because of its relatively low gravity and sulfur content respectively. It is considered a high quality Oil that is easily refined. It is sourced in the United States and distributed via the Cushing hub, which is considered “The Pipeline Crossroads of the World”. It is a benchmark for the Oil market and WTI price is frequently quoted in the media.

What factors drive the price of WTI Oil?

Like all assets, supply and demand are the key drivers of WTI Oil price. As such, global growth can be a driver of increased demand and vice versa for weak global growth. Political instability, wars, and sanctions can disrupt supply and impact prices. The decisions of OPEC, a group of major Oil-producing countries, is another key driver of price. The value of the US Dollar influences the price of WTI Crude Oil, since Oil is predominantly traded in US Dollars, thus a weaker US Dollar can make Oil more affordable and vice versa.

How does inventory data impact the price of WTI Oil

The weekly Oil inventory reports published by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Energy Information Agency (EIA) impact the price of WTI Oil. Changes in inventories reflect fluctuating supply and demand. If the data shows a drop in inventories it can indicate increased demand, pushing up Oil price. Higher inventories can reflect increased supply, pushing down prices. API’s report is published every Tuesday and EIA’s the day after. Their results are usually similar, falling within 1% of each other 75% of the time. The EIA data is considered more reliable, since it is a government agency.

How does OPEC influence the price of WTI Oil?

OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) is a group of 13 Oil-producing nations who collectively decide production quotas for member countries at twice-yearly meetings. Their decisions often impact WTI Oil prices. When OPEC decides to lower quotas, it can tighten supply, pushing up Oil prices. When OPEC increases production, it has the opposite effect. OPEC+ refers to an expanded group that includes ten extra non-OPEC members, the most notable of which is Russia.

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