- WTI is trading more calmly on Wednesday and is currently roughly flat in the $92.00 area awaiting fresh geopolitical developments.
- As geopolitical risk premia remains elevated, oil is likely to remain a buy on dips.
- A possible US/Iran nuclear deal, which would free up 1.3M BPD in exports, is a downside risk traders should note.
After Tuesday’s choppy session which saw front-month WTI futures print fresh seven-year highs at $96.00 per barrel before swinging lower again, oil markets are experiencing calmer conditions on Wednesday. WTI is currently trading towards the top of mid-$90 to mid-$92.00 intra-day ranges near the $92.00 mark, where it is broadly flat on the day. Wednesday’s roughly $2.0 intra-day range compares to Tuesday’s intra-day range of more than $5.50.
Crude oil markets are continuing to monitor developments regarding the Ukraine crisis as fears about a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine remain elevated and Western nations hit Russia with sanctions over its recognition of the independence of breakaway Ukrainian regions. These sanctions have so far been focused on targeting Russian banks and wealthy individuals, with US President Joe Biden on Tuesday making it clear that the US wasn’t yet to target Russian commodity exports.
The geopolitical impetus for WTI to push above $96.00 and on towards $100, thus, is not yet there. But US officials have signalled that if Russia takes further aggressive action against Ukraine all options for further sanctions are on the table and this is a key risk oil traders will be monitoring in the coming days. “The prospect of more conflict in Ukraine should safeguard the geopolitical risk premium,” said one commodity analyst, whilst another warned that “There is a risk that Russia will retaliate to the sanctions by reducing deliveries of its own accord”.
Thus, for now, it seems likely that dips back towards $90.00 will continue to be bought, as has been the case over the past two or so weeks. Eyes will be on a meeting of the UN General Assembly on Ukraine later in the day, which should generate fresh geopolitical headlines, as well as US weekly oil inventory data from the American Petroleum Institute at 2130GMT.
Another theme at the top of oil traders’ minds is the prospect of a US/Iran nuclear deal. A deal would pave the way for the US to lift sanctions on Iranian crude oil exports. According to ING, this would ease concerns over OPEC+ spare capacity (or lack thereof). The bank said “Iran is currently producing at around 2.5mln BPD but is estimated to have a capacity of closer to 3.8mln BPD, therefore, over time there is the potential for 1.3mln BPD of additional supply to come onto the market”. “Nuclear talks in Vienna are reaching a sensitive and important point” said Iran's foreign minister on Wednesday.