Oil price reaction to Middle East tensions remains moderate
North Slope oil prices have been hovering slightly over $70 per barrel since the U.S. killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, with no major surge during the latest round of Middle East tensions.
Oil closed Tuesday at $70.73, marking the third day above $70 and first sustained position since mid May 2018.
Acting Revenue Commissioner Mike Barnhill said geopolitical forces are just one variable driving prices.
“In a commodity market, there’s a whole host of factors that drive price,” he said. “Geopolitical factors is a set of factors, but supply and demand are obviously pivotal factors and usually the major factors that move oil prices. Geopolitical factors happen in the back drop of larger supply and demand factors.”
North Slope oil first breached $70 on Friday — a $2.03 bump from Thursday — and has remained slightly over that mark since.
Former federal pipeline coordinator and deputy revenue commissioner Larry Persily said the market isn’t ready to panic yet.
"Demand is still weak,” he said. “China's economy is weaker, the world economy is weaker than people would hope and the supply is just overwhelming. The U.S. this end of the year hit a record, close to 13 million barrels a day of oil. Russia hit a record about 12 and a half million barrels a day."
He continued, “Buyers are saying hey, absent something really bad happening like scuttling tankers in the Strait of Hormuz stopping supply, their just not that worried about getting next week's oil and that's what shows up in prices."
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