Oil prices experienced a significant surge of more than 2% on Monday as tensions escalated in the Middle East due to military clashes between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. This spike in oil prices has raised concerns about the potential for a broader conflict in the region.
Brent crude, a key benchmark for global oil prices, surged by $2.28, equivalent to 2.7%, reaching $86.86 per barrel as of 0859 GMT. Similarly, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude also witnessed a substantial increase, reaching $85.23 per barrel, up by $2.44, or nearly 3%. Both benchmarks experienced a sharp uptick of over $4 per barrel earlier in the trading session.
This surge in oil prices represents a reversal of the downward trend observed in the previous week, which marked the most substantial weekly decline since March. During that period, Brent crude prices fell by approximately 11%, while WTI saw an 8% decline. The primary driver of this decline was a darkening macroeconomic outlook, which intensified concerns about global oil demand.
Tamas Varga, an oil broker at PVM, emphasized that while the fundamental supply-demand balance remains unaffected, any increase in tension in the Middle East typically leads to higher oil prices. This pattern has held true once again as the conflict between Israel and Hamas unfolds.
Hamas initiated the largest military assault on Israel in decades on Saturday, prompting a series of retaliatory Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. This sudden eruption of violence poses a threat to U.S. efforts to facilitate a reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Israel, a potential deal that could see the normalization of ties between the two nations in exchange for a defense agreement between Washington and Riyadh.
Reports indicated that Saudi officials informed the White House on Friday about their willingness to increase oil output next year as part of the proposed agreement with Israel. Saudi Arabia and Russia had previously agreed to a combined voluntary production cut of 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of 2023.
Amidst the escalating conflict, questions arise regarding the potential involvement of Iran. Energy analyst Saul Kavonic noted that if the conflict extends to include Iran, up to 3% of the global oil supply could be at risk. Moreover, in the event of a more extensive conflict impacting transit through the Strait of Hormuz, a critical oil shipping route, up to 20% of the world’s oil supply could face disruption.
As oil prices continue to react to geopolitical developments in the Middle East, analysts are closely monitoring the situation to assess the duration and potential impact of this oil price rally. The unfolding events not only have immediate implications for energy markets but also carry broader geopolitical ramifications that could shape the region’s dynamics in the coming days and weeks.