- After a historically volatile week, WTI is more subdued on Friday, remaining capped under $110 but supported above $104.
- WTI is on course for a weekly drop of over $7.0, which would be its worst one-week performance since November.
Global oil markets look set to end a historic week of energy-related global developments and volatility in comparatively subdued fashion. On Friday, front-month WTI futures, which surged as high as $130 per barrel earlier in the week, have remained capped underneath $110, but also supported above earlier weekly lows in the $104 area. At current levels near $108, WTI trades with on-the-day gains of about $2.0, but is on course to post a weekly drop of more than $7.0, which would be its worst one-week performance since November.
Oil markets were buffeted by a barrage of important new developments this week. The US announced a ban on all Russian energy imports, the UK announced plans to phase out imports by the end of the year and the EU is working on a strategy to significantly reduce its exposure to Russian energy imports over the coming years. While these headlines exaccerbated concerns about oil shortages, with major Western oil buyers already shunning Russian exports, there was also plenty of focus on where new supply could come from.
Commentary from Western and Iranian officials suggests a deal to revive the 2015 nuclear pact is on the cusp of being reached, but new Russian demands this week meant that talks hit a snag, slowing progress to an agreement that could see over 1.3M barrels in Iranian crude oil exports return to global markets. Europe’s top diplomat on Friday said that talks on the almost completed deal were now “paused”. The US and its other major oil-consuming allies are exerting pressure on OPEC members with spare capacity (Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iraq) to up output and ease the global supply squeeze.
While mixed messaging from UAE officials this week did suggest there is a debate going on (the UAE’s US ambassador said that the country would push for a larger OPEC+ output hike), the Saudis are yet to cave. The US is also trying to reach a deal with Venezuela that would see sanctions lifted to allow direct exports to the US, while officials are also looking at ways to up domestic output.
For now, markets appear to be in something of a state of confusion about 1) how much Russian oil supply is being lost and 2) how much supply can/will quickly come online from elsewhere. Until this becomes clearer, trading conditions are likely to remain historically volatile, with some analysts predicting big further price gains, and others calling the top.