Middle East Tensions Escalate
Oil markets witnessed a significant surge this week, with WTI crude oil climbing 5.26%, its highest level since December. This rally is attributed to a combination of strong U.S. economic indicators and escalating tensions in the Middle East.
Shipping disruptions in the Red Sea, intensified by recent incidents involving Maersk-operated ships and U.S. military supplies, are heightening concerns over supply chain stability. Yemen's Houthi leader's declaration to target ships linked to Israel exacerbates the situation, raising doubts about the possibility of a military resolution for safe passage.
Moreover, a Ukrainian drone attack on a Russian oil refinery adds to the prevailing supply worries.
US Energy Information Administration Insights
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a larger-than-expected drop in crude inventories, primarily due to extreme winter conditions. A significant 9.2 million-barrel reduction in crude stockpiles was observed, contrasting with the anticipated 2.1 million-barrel draw.
This decrease was driven by reduced crude imports and a drop in U.S. crude production, the most substantial since September 2021. Additionally, refinery operations and fuel demand were impacted by the weather, leading to a rise in gasoline stocks to their highest since February 2021. The recovery from these winter storms is expected to be slow, suggesting continued influence on future data.