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Oil Prices Hold Steady Amid Middle East Tensions, Set for Weekly Gains

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Oil prices remained relatively stable on Friday, showing resilience amid ongoing tensions in the Middle East, with both Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oils poised for weekly gains.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, experienced a slight decline of 6 cents or 0.1% to $81.57 per barrel while the U.S. WTI crude oil saw a marginal increase of 2 cents to settle at $76.24 per barrel.

The stability in oil prices comes against the backdrop of escalating tensions in the Middle East, particularly following Israel’s rejection of a ceasefire proposal from Hamas.

Israeli forces continued to engage in military action, bombing the southern border city of Rafah in response to ongoing conflicts in the Palestinian enclave.

The geopolitical uncertainties in the region have contributed to the buoyancy of oil prices, with both Brent and WTI crude set to register weekly gains of more than 5%.

Warren Patterson, the head of commodities research at ING, speaking on the recent price movements, said while tensions are driving the market, the fundamentals remain relatively unchanged.

He anticipates continued range-bound trading patterns, reflecting a balanced oil market.

U.S. officials have increasingly criticized Israel’s civilian casualties in Gaza, further intensifying the focus on the conflict.

Meanwhile, Hamas has engaged in ceasefire talks with mediators in Cairo, including representatives from Egypt and Qatar.

Despite the geopolitical tensions, there has been no significant impact on oil production. Non-OPEC output from countries like Norway and Guyana is on the rise, while Russia has exceeded its planned crude exports for February, despite facing challenges such as drone attacks and technical issues at refineries.

Furthermore, the U.S. Treasury Department’s sanctions on entities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and a Liberian-registered tanker have added another layer of complexity to the global oil market.

In addition to geopolitical factors, deflation risks in China, the world’s largest crude oil importer, have also influenced oil prices.

Concerns over China’s economic performance, exacerbated by a surprising Consumer Price Index (CPI) figure, have contributed to market uncertainty ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations.

Overall, the stability in oil prices amid geopolitical tensions underscores the intricate dynamics shaping the global energy landscape.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Crude Oil Dips Slightly on Friday Amid Demand Concerns

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On Friday, global crude oil prices experienced a slight dip, primarily attributed to mounting concerns surrounding demand despite signs of a tightening market.

Brent crude prices edged lower, nearing $83 per barrel, following a recent uptick of 1.6% over two consecutive sessions.

Similarly, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude hovered around $78 per barrel. Despite the dip, market indicators suggest a relatively robust market, with US crude inventories expanding less than anticipated in the previous week.

The oil market finds itself amidst a complex dynamic, balancing optimistic signals such as reduced OPEC+ output and heightened tensions in the Middle East against persistent worries about Chinese demand, particularly as the nation grapples with economic challenges.

This delicate equilibrium has led oil futures to mirror the oscillations of broader stock markets, underscoring the interconnectedness of global economic factors.

Analysts, including Michael Tran from RBC Capital Markets LLC, highlight the recurring theme of robust oil demand juxtaposed with concerning Chinese macroeconomic data, contributing to market volatility.

Also, recent attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea by Houthi militants have added a risk premium to oil futures, reflecting geopolitical uncertainties beyond immediate demand-supply dynamics.

While US crude inventories saw a slight rise, they remain below seasonal averages, indicating some resilience in the market despite prevailing uncertainties.

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Nigeria’s Oil Rig Count Soars From 11 to 30, Says NUPRC CEO

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The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, has announced a surge in the country’s oil rig count.

Komolafe disclosed that Nigeria’s oil rigs have escalated from 11 to 30, a substantial increase since 2011.

Attributing this surge to concerted efforts by NUPRC and other governmental stakeholders, Komolafe highlighted the importance of instilling confidence, certainty, and predictability in the oil and gas industry.

He explained the pivotal role of the recently implemented Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which has spurred significant capital expenditure amounting to billions of dollars over the past two and a half years.

Speaking in Lagos after receiving The Sun Award, Komolafe underscored the effective discharge of NUPRC’s statutory mandate, which has contributed to the success stories witnessed in the sector.

The surge in Nigeria’s oil rig count signifies a tangible measure of vibrant activities within the upstream oil and gas sector, reflecting increased drilling activity and heightened industry dynamism.

Also, Komolafe noted that NUPRC has issued over 17 regulations aimed at enhancing certainty and predictability in industry operations, aligning with the objectives outlined in the PIA.

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Oil Prices Rebound in Asian Markets Amid Red Sea Shipping Concerns

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Amid escalating attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and growing uncertainty regarding U.S. interest rate cuts, oil prices rebounded in Asian markets today.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, climbed by 24 cents to $82.58 a barrel while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil (WTI) rose by 21 cents to $77.25.

The rebound comes after both Brent and WTI contracts experienced a 1.5% and 1.4% decline, respectively, from their near three-week highs on Tuesday.

This decline occurred as the premium for prompt U.S. crude futures to the second-month contract widened to $1.71 a barrel, its widest level in approximately four months.

However, on Wednesday, the premiums slid to 4 cents a barrel.

Analysts suggest that oil futures have entered a relatively range-bound phase, with current prices reflecting a risk premium of $6-7 per barrel.

The situation could persist until the next significant development in the Gaza crisis, whether it involves a de-escalation through a ceasefire or a further intensification of the conflict.

Recent attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab strait by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis have heightened concerns over freight flows through these critical waterways.

Moreover, Washington’s veto of a draft UN Security Council resolution on the Israel-Hamas war has added to geopolitical tensions impacting oil markets.

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