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Saturday, 20. July 2024

Oil Jumps 2% After U.S., UK Hit Houthi Targets

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Oil prices climbed 2% on Friday following U.S. and British military actions against Houthi targets in Yemen, in retaliation for the group’s attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

The strike heightened worries about the broader implications of Middle East conflict on oil shipments, particularly through the strategically vital Straits of Hormuz.

“If a large part of Strait of Hormuz flows were to be halted, it would present up to three times the impact of the 1970’s oil price shocks and over double the impact of the Ukraine war on gas markets, atop already fragile supply chains and stock levels,” said an energy analyst at MST Marquee, Saul Kavonic.

Brent crude futures rose by 2% to $78.93 a barrel, and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed 2% to $73.45 by 0728 GMT.

The benchmarks increased by almost 1% on Thursday, indicating a potential second consecutive weekly gain.

The recent U.S. and British strikes represent a significant escalation in the Israel-Hamas conflict that began in October. Reports from Yemen indicate widespread explosions throughout the region.

President Joe Biden emphasized that the “targeted strikes” serve as a strong message, indicating that the U.S. and its allies will not accept threats to their personnel or compromise on the freedom of navigation.

A representative from the Houthis stated that they would persist in targeting vessels bound for Israel.

The Houthi assaults in the Red Sea have interrupted global trade along the vital pathway linking Europe and Asia, representing approximately 15% of worldwide maritime traffic.

The Houthis have targeted commercial ships in the Red Sea since October, demonstrating solidarity with the Palestinian militant group Hamas against Israel.

Major shipping companies like Maersk are redirecting their vessels from the Red Sea and cautioning clients about potential additional interruptions.

The recent U.S.-led strikes come shortly after Iran seized a tanker carrying Iraqi crude bound for Turkey. This action was in response to the U.S.’s confiscation of the same vessel and its oil last year. The White House has expressed strong disapproval of this seizure.

The Houthis have focused their attacks on the Bab al-Mandab Strait, located southwest of the Arabian Peninsula. In contrast, Iran’s recent seizure occurred near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, situated between Oman and Iran—a development that analysts view with significant concern.

“The Gulf of Oman is very near the Strait of Hormuz, a critical chokepoint for oil flows. More than 20 million barrels/day of oil moves through the Strait of Hormuz, which is equivalent to around 20% of global consumption,” noted ING analysts in a note.

 

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