Crude oil prices shot up more than 3% on Friday in mid-day trade, with the WTI front-month contract reaching $109.80 per barrel—erasing losses from earlier in the week.
Over the last 30 days, WTI has swung from a low of $98.54 to a high of $110.36 as the market susses out market developments that have given rise to a new brand of volatility.
Meanwhile, gasoline prices in the United States continue to hit new highs every day, with the current national average sitting at $4.432 for a gallon of regular-grade gasoline.
The fear of an EU-driven ban on Russian crude oil continues to support prices. EU diplomats told Reuters on Friday that an embargo on Russian crude oil heading into the EU could be reached this month, although Hungary has so far resisted calls for such a ban.
Further supporting crude oil prices are a rash of warnings that there could soon be a diesel shortage—the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, and warnings of impending electricity shortages around the United States, including in California, Texas, and Indiana as power suppliers struggle to keep up with demand and are likely to result in blackouts during heatwaves.
News this week that OPEC again failed to produce to its self-imposed production quota added to bullish factors. OPEC’s April production increased just 153,000 according to the group’s latest Monthly Oil Market Report.
Rumors of an imminent total lockdown in China’s second-most populated city, Beijing—a rumor which the Chinese government has denied—are likely capping any oil price gains, as are reduced demand growth forecasts from the IEA and OPEC published this week, which cite shrinking world economic growth estimates, geopolitical developments, and COVID-19 restrictions impeding future demand growth.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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