This week readers gained insight into various topics impacting the market including a truce in the middle east, more sanctions on Russia, oil CEOs testifying in Congress, and more countries joining the global petroleum release. Earlier this week prices were rising on supply concerns due to instability in the Middle East. However, on Sunday the Saudi-led coalition that has been at war with Houthi rebels, generally believed to be backed by Iran, met to agree on a truce that would end the damage and bloodshed that has been going on for years. This is great news for US allies including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which will now be able to focus their assets on other problems such as oil supply.
Later in the week readers learned of new Russian sanctions that would be imposed on Russia for their continued war crimes in Ukraine. Lawmakers want to cut Russia off further but have to do so without severely impacting their own economies. French President Macron has backed a full ban on Russia’s coal and oil industry, while Germany has voiced concerns that natural gas bans would send their economy into a recession. The US is also tightening restrictions on Russia’s ability to use US reserves to pay sovereign debt. While the finance ministry in Russia will not disclose just how much money they have lost due to sanctions, it is expected that the number is quite high.
Due to the situation in Russia restricting global oil supplies, CEOs from six major oil companies were asked to testify before Congress this week about rising prices. Although politicians on both sides of the aisle try to pin today’s high prices on “big oil greed” or “excessive regulations”, most oil and gas companies are facing a different challenge: Wall Street. After years of booms and busts causing bankruptcies, investors are pushing oil companies to avoid the “boom” as a way to avoid the eventual bust. Oil and gas companies are in turn focusing on delivering cash flow from existing wells, rather than growing whenever prices rise. This pressure is creating real problems for oil prices since the world needs more American oil. But the answer may not be solved in one Congressional hearing.
Along with the United States, the International Energy Agency countries, including Japan, have joined in the fight to stop the rise of oil prices globally, in hopes that their efforts will make a positive impact. Collectively, the IEA has announced 120 million barrels so far, half of which is comprised of the 60 million barrels committed earlier by the US. Out of the past three releases between the United States and the IEA, the US has provided around half of the total volume. Japan’s cuts will be the second-largest contribution, totaling 15 million barrels from various state and private reserves within the country. As of January, Japan held 470 million barrels in reserve, compared to America’s 560 million barrels currently in reserve.
Prices in Review
WTI Crude opened the week at $98.95. Prices spiked from Monday to Tuesday before falling back down throughout the week. Crude opened Friday at $97.17, a decrease of $1.78 from Monday.
Diesel opened the week at $3.4249. Diesel followed the same trends as crude before opening Friday at $3.3065, a decrease of $0.1184 from Monday.
Gasoline opened the week at $3.1499. Prices followed similar patterns to crude and diesel, moving up on Tuesday before retreating the rest of the week. Today gasoline opened at $3.0422, a decrease of $0.1077 from Monday.