War-premium back on the agenda?

During yesterday’s trading session, Brent Crude made significant gains, marking the largest increase in global oil prices in approximately five weeks. The front-month contract is presently trading at USD 84.3 per barrel, reflecting a robust increase of USD 2.55 per barrel (above 3%) compared to Monday morning’s opening price.

Ole R. Hvalbye,
Analyst Commodities, SEB

Furthermore, US crude inventories, excluding those held in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), experienced a notable decline for the first time in seven weeks. This decline suggests a heightened global demand for crude oil, which has played a pivotal role in driving up prices (further details below).

Additionally, of considerable significance is Ukraine’s unexpected success in executing precise drone strikes targeting key Russian oil infrastructure. Yesterday, Ukrainian drone strikes triggered a fire at Rosneft’s Ryazan plant, which has a daily production capacity of 340,000 barrels near Moscow. This facility is a significant provider of motor fuels for the capital region and stands as one of Russia’s largest crude-processing facilities. Notably, this incident marks the third Ukrainian drone attack on Russian refineries this week, following similar incidents at the Novoshakhtinsk and Norsi refineries.

Ukrainian strikes in Russian territories ”appear to aim at disrupting, if not influencing, the Russian elections,” Putin stated in an interview with the RIA Novosti news service released Wednesday. He added, ”Another objective seems to be securing leverage for potential negotiation purposes.”

i.e., we believe the statements suggest that Ukrainian strikes in Russian regions are perceived by Putin as strategic moves with dual purposes. Firstly, they are seen as attempts to disrupt or influence the upcoming elections in Russia, potentially destabilizing the political landscape or casting doubt on the legitimacy of the electoral process. Secondly, they are interpreted as efforts to gain leverage in possible negotiation scenarios, implying that Ukraine seeks to strengthen its bargaining position by demonstrating its capability to inflict economic and strategic damage on Russia.

From a market perspective, it’s crucial to highlight the escalating conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which poses a significant threat to global energy markets. Russia’s role as a major oil and gas supplier is paramount, and any disruptions in its energy infrastructure could lead to widespread supply shortages and price volatility worldwide. The recent drone strikes are a clear reminder that geopolitical tensions continue to impact global oil markets. The fading ”war-premium” should now be factored in more significantly, indicating a need to brace for increased volatility ahead.

An overall significant drawdown of US inventories. In the U.S., commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, dropped by 1.5 million barrels from the prior week to 447.0 million barrels, about 3% below the five-year average. Total motor gasoline inventories fell by 5.7 million barrels, also about 3% below the five-year average. Distillate fuel inventories rose by 0.9 million barrels, approximately 7% below the five-year average. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.7 million barrels, marking an 8% rise compared to the five-year average.

Overall commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 4.7 million barrels. Over the past four weeks, total products supplied averaged 19.9 million barrels per day, up by 1.0% from the same period last year. Motor gasoline product supplied averaged 8.7 million barrels per day, down by 1.3% from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied averaged 3.7 million barrels per day over the past four weeks, up by 0.5% from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied increased by 2.0% compared to the same four-week period last year.

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