Oil markets shrug off tension in the Middle East

IT HAS BEEN a busy start to the year for the oil industry in the Middle East. The chief executives of Saudi Aramco, ExxonMobil and Total were among those who gathered on January 13th in Dhahran, in Saudi Arabia, for the International Petroleum Technology Conference. On January 11th Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, welcomed energy ministers and executives for its Sustainability Week. They had plenty to talk about: a few days earlier, the region had looked close to war.

America killed Qassem Suleimani, one of Iran’s top commanders, in Iraq on January 3rd. Iran bombed an American base in Iraq in retaliation on January 8th. That strike killed no Americans and the threat of war has receded for now, but further conflict seems likely. Oil markets, however, are unbothered. After a brief jump to over $70 a barrel, the price of Brent crude subsided to $64 on January 13th, lower than before Suleimani’s death. On January 14th oil traders were preoccupied not by fears of violence, but by crude inventories and news of a trade deal between China and America.  

Oil producers in the Middle East are adjusting to a new normal. Geopolitics threatens to disrupt crude production, but the broader oil market is unconcerned. The threat to oil infrastructure is real. Iran and its proxies may continue to attack pipelines, tankers and...

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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