Skip to main content

Brent crude oil prices rose more than 1 per cent on Thursday on fears of longer-than-expected supply shortfalls following Saturday’s attacks on a key Saudi Arabian oil processing facility and escalating tensions in the Middle East.

Global benchmark Brent settled 80 cents, or 1.3 per cent, higher at $64.40 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude pared earlier gains and ended largely steady at $58.13 a barrel, just 2 cents firmer.

Saturday’s attacks knocked out around half of Saudi Arabia’s crude production and severely limited the country’s spare capacity, a cushion for oil markets in any unplanned outage. Tensions have escalated as the United States and Saudi Arabia blamed the attacks on Iran.

Story continues below advertisement

“The Saudi oil industry could be threatened again and we could see more supply disruption from the Persian Gulf,” said Gene McGillian, vice president of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

“What’s hanging over the market’s head is the response that may be coming. How will the U.S. and Saudi Arabia respond to this?” he said.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading crude exporter, has said the crippling attacks on its oil sites were “unquestionably sponsored” by regional rival Iran.

The United States said it was building a coalition to deter Iranian threats after the Sept. 14 attack, while the U.S. military said it was consulting with Saudi Arabia on ways to mitigate threats from the north, which U.S. officials also blamed on Iran.

Billions of dollars spent by Saudi Arabia on cutting edge Western military hardware mainly designed to deter high altitude attacks proved no match for low-cost drones and cruise missiles used in a strike that crippled its giant oil industry.

U.S. President Donald Trump said there were many options short of war and added he had ordered the Treasury to “substantially increase sanctions” on Tehran. Iran has denied involvement in the strikes and warned Trump against being dragged into war.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has described the weekend strike as an act of war. He said Washington has been discussing possible retaliation with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies but wanted a peaceful resolution.

Story continues below advertisement

“We are still striving to build out a coalition in an act of diplomacy while the foreign minister of Iran is threatening all out war and to fight to the last American,” Pompeo said. “We’re here to build up a coalition aimed at achieving peace.”

Saudi Arabia has said it would restore lost production by the end of this month, and bring its capacity back to 12 million barrels per day by the end of November.

The Wall Street Journal reported Saudi Arabia had asked Iraq’s State Organization for the Marketing of Oil (SOMO) for as much as 20 million barrels of crude, but an Iraqi state news agency said SOMO denied Saudi Arabia had requested crude supplies for its refineries.

The oil market “is rapidly calling into question whether Saudi Arabia can come through this as cleanly as they claim,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.

Also lifting prices, the U.S. dollar weakened and traders were likely unwinding some short positions after this week’s turbulent trading, said Josh Graves, senior market strategist at RJO Futures. But geopolitical risks were the biggest factor in the price rise, he said.

“The fact that we haven’t retraced back to the low-to-mid $50s means there’s an expectation Trump would intervene,” Graves said.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter