Brent oil ends higher as investors monitor Israel-Hamas war, talks on Venezuela sanctions

2 mins read

Oil futures finished Tuesday on a mixed note, with U.S. prices unchanged for the session and global benchmark crude settling with a modest gain, after posting losses in the previous session on renewed talks that could ease U.S. sanctions on crude exports by Venezuela.

Traders continued to watch on developments in the Israel-Gaza war that would deepen risks to the oil industry in the Middle East region.

Price action

  • West Texas Intermediate crude
    for November delivery

    settled flat at $86.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after losing 1.2% on Monday.

  • December Brent crude

    the global benchmark, gained 25 cents, or 0.3%, to $89.90 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

  • November gasoline
    added 0.5% to $2.28 a gallon, while November heating oil
    rose 0.9% to $3.18 a gallon.

  • Natural gas for November delivery
    settled at $3.08 per million British thermal units, down 1%.

Market drivers

“Uncertainty still lingers over a potential spillover of the conflict in Israel in a way that could involve major oil producers in the region, in a dynamic that continues to create upside risk for prices,” said Ricardo Evangelista, senior analyst at ActivTrades, in market commentary. 

Crude prices surged last week on fears the Israel-Hamas war could spill over to involve Iran, potentially leading the U.S. to increase enforcement of sanctions that would curb exports and further tighten global supplies.

If Iran enters the conflict, that could put its 3 million barrels of daily oil production at risk, said Jay Hatfield, chief executive officer at Infrastructure Capital Management.

The Middle East war has also led to an overall rise in oil prices because it put the potential for an Israel/Saudi peace agreement on hold, a deal that may have led the Saudis to raise oil output by 1 million barrels per day, he told MarketWatch.

Oil prices pulled back Monday as investors monitored diplomatic efforts aimed at containing the conflict, while the prospect of more supply from Venezuela put added pressure on crude.

The Biden administration and the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro have agreed to a deal under which the U.S. would ease sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry. Venezuela, in return, would conduct a competitive, internationally monitored presidential election next year, the report said. The report said the deal was expected to be signed Tuesday in Barbados.

The U.S. State Department later Monday said that it welcomed an announcement by Maduro representatives and others to resume Venezuelan-led talks in Barbados.

An agreement that eases sanctions would “provide some relief from the supply-side concerns that lately have dominated the mindset of oil traders,” said Evangelista.

See: Venezuela is set for a ‘long journey’ to boost oil output if U.S. eases sanctions

Meanwhile, a rush of diplomacy by global leaders to head off a wider conflict in the Middle East appeared to be soothing investor nerves for now, Raffi Boyadjian, lead investment analyst at XM, said in a note.

President Biden is set to visit Israel Wednesday, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a second visit in as many days on Monday, “underscoring the intense diplomatic efforts to contain the conflict and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza,” Boyadjian wrote.

Read: 70% chance Israel-Hamas war spreads beyond Gaza, threatening oil, strategist warns

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