Energy News Roundup: Syria and Oil Prices

on August 30, 2013 at 8:30 AM

Tension Rises In Israel Amid International Talks Of Military Intervension In Syria

Of all the coverage linking Syria to oil prices, BBC seems to have used to most appropriate word for how the conflict is affecting markets: they’re “jittery”. It conveys that price movements will be both reactive and unpredictable as events unfold. The possibility of conflict has almost certainly pushed oil prices higher, but uncertainty over the timing of military action also seems to have pushed prices lower. [BBCWall Street Journal, Reuters]

“Syria remains the main price catalyst for the oil markets as well as many risk asset markets,” writes Dominick Chirichella, whose full piece at the CME Group website is worth a read. “Oil prices are likely to retain the majority of the risk premium that has evolved in the price of oil over the last several weeks. For oil prices to surge significantly from current levels action in Syria will have to result in an interruption in oil supply due to retaliatory action from Iran for example.” [CME Group]

According to Steve LeVine, geopolitical turmoil outside the Middle East trumps Syria as the major driver of oil prices. “The real threat to oil prices—which has already caused a 16% price surge since April despite a reasonable global surplus of crude—comes from other geopolitical chaos in two key supplier nations: Libya and Nigeria” [Quartz]

And of course, there’s the obligatory forecast for a sharp price spike…Societe Generale analyst Michael Wittner is floating the possibility of $150 per barrel, at least for a brief period. “Wittner thinks Brent has a shot at $150 is if the regional spillover causes a significant supply disruption in Iraq or elsewhere — from 0.5 to 2 million barrels a day.” [Market Watch]