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WTI Pops as Red Sea Shipping Echoes in Slumping European Diesel Supply

U.S. benchmark WTI oil prices gained over 2% on Monday amid the ongoing Red Sea shipping threat and European diesel demand before retracing some of those gains as Wall Street tried to digest inflation data. 

Limited U.S. refinery output due to planned maintenance and overhauls also played a role in pushing crude prices higher on Monday. 

Earlier on Monday, Reuters reported that U.S. diesel exports to Europe had slumped in February amid lower refinery output and tighter supplies in the U.S. Citing Kpler ship tracking data, Reuters said that Europe;’s U.S. diesel imports had nearly halved so far this month to 6.65 million barrels. 

This U.S. diesel export slump circled back to Red Sea shipping disruptions as Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis continued their campaign of terror on the route to the Suez Canal. Europe’s tightening diesel supplies are in part due to disruptions in the Red Sea, giving the market yet another glimpse of the scale of potential impact for this crisis. 

At 3:51 p.m. ET on Monday, Brent crude was trading at $82.68, up 1.30% on the day, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was trading at $77.72, up 1.61% on the day. 

Last week, markets saw efforts to constrain the Houthis gain momentum with the European Commission naval defense joining in, in addition to stepped-up attacks against Houthi land targets by the U.S. and allied forces. 

Over the weekend, U.S. Central Command said that the USS Mason had shot down a Houthi-fired anti-ship ballistic missile launched into the Gulf of Aden and appeared to target a U.S.-flagged oil tanker. The ship was not damaged and there were no casualties or injuries. 

Since February 21, the Houthis have launched 59 attacks on commercial shipping interests in the Red Sea, according to CNBC. 

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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