- WTI has surged above $101 to hit its highest in over seven years, with analysts eyeing the 2014 highs near $107.50.
- The rally is being driven by concerns of supply disruptions as Western sanctions against Russia start to bite.
- For now, this has outweighed chatter about coordinated oil reserve releases.
Oil prices have surged this Tuesday as concerns grow about supply disruptions as Western sanctions against Russia, who are currently in the process of invading Ukraine, start to bite, outweighing chatter about coordinated oil reserve releases. Front-month WTI futures have surged to their highest levels since July 2014 above $101 per barrel, with the bulls eyeing a test of the next key area of resistance in the $107.50 area, which marks the 2014 highs.
That translates into on-the-day gains of more than $5.0 and takes WTI’s two-day rally to over $9.0. A senior analyst at Rystad Energy wrote that “the fragile situation in Ukraine and financial and energy sanctions against Russia will keep the energy crisis stoked and oil well above $100 per barrel in the near-term and even higher if the conflict escalates further”.
The US and EU have not imposed direct sanctions on Russian energy companies or on energy exports, but various reports in financial press point to growing difficulties in conducting trade of these goods. Banks have been pulling financing and shipping costs have surged, while major Western-based energy companies are looking to exit their stakes in Russian operations.
Russia exports between 4-5M barrels of crude oil per day, plus a further 2-3M barrels of refined products each day, making the country one of the world’s most important energy exports. Major US banks including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan have all upped their oil forecasts to reflect concerns about supply disruptions, with some analysts warning of oil hitting $150.
Press reports suggest that a coordinated crude oil reserve release by the US and its allies could amount to between 60-70M barrels and such a move is currently under discussion at an extraordinary ministerial meeting of the Internation Energy Agency. Confirmation that nations agreed on the release might trigger some profit-taking in crude oil later in the session, analysts suggested, but shouldn’t shift the underlying bullish dynamic.
With fresh sources suggesting OPEC+ is going to stick to its current output policy of increasing quotas by 400K barrels per day/month in April, despite the Russian invasion of Ukraine, hopes of near-term supply relief from OPEC+ remain non-existent.