NEW YORK. — Oil prices seesawed at the start of the week before jumping close to multi-year highs on geopolitical concerns, with Brent hitting $70 and WTI at $65. However, geopolitical pressure is only able to influence oil prices to such a degree because the market is fundamentally getting tighter.
Ongoing declines in Venezuela and concerns about heightened tension between the U.S. and Iran have significantly raised the risk premium for oil, even as some short-term factors recently pushed up prices.
The weekly EIA report was a bit mixed. U.S. oil production jumped again by 26,000 bpd in the week ending on March 23, putting output at 10.433 million barrels per day (mb/d), yet another record high. Still, the report wasn’t exactly bearish.
Although crude stocks rose, they increased by a modest 1,6 million barrels, and much of that is largely the result of a big jump in imports. More glaringly, gasoline stocks fell sharply by 3,5 million barrels.
In other words, U.S. production is indeed soaring, but it doesn’t appear to be swamping the market, at least as of now. A variety of analysts have argued that oil demand is so strong that the market will continue to tighten, even after considering the explosive growth of U.S. shale.
“This year will be the eighth year of continuous growth since the Great Financial Crisis; and the seventh consecutive year of annual growth of more than 1 million b/d,” Wood Mackenzie said in a note. “Our latest forecast suggests that demand will grow by 1,7 million b/d in 2018, the fifth-highest this century.” — Oilprice.com.