Tight supply lifts prices of oil as US driving season starts
US Memorial Day weekend travel, at the end of May, is expected to be the busiest in two years
London — Oil prices rose on Wednesday, buoyed by tight supplies and the prospect of rising demand from the summer driving season in the US, the world’s biggest crude consumer.
Brent crude futures for July rose for a fifth session running, gaining $1.69, or 1.5%, to $115.25 a barrel by 9.40am GMT.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for July delivery rose $1.86, or 1.7%, to $111.63.
Oil prices are gaining support from tight petrol supply, with inventories of the refined oil product down by 4.2-million barrels last week, market sources said on Tuesday, citing American Petroleum Institute figures.
Stockpiles data from the US government is due on Wednesday, with analysts polled by Reuters poll expecting US crude oil and petrol inventories to have fallen last week.
“Just ahead of the summer driving season, US gasoline stocks find themselves at their seasonally lowest level since 2014,” said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.
US Memorial Day weekend travel is expected to be the busiest in two years, causing fuel demand to rise as more drivers hit the road and shake off coronavirus pandemic restrictions despite high fuel prices.
At the same time, global crude supplies continue to tighten as buyers avoid oil from Russia, the world’s second-largest exporter, after the invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.
France’s new foreign minister on Tuesday said she was optimistic about the prospect of securing agreement on an EU sanctions package that would phase out Russian oil imports to the bloc despite current opposition in some quarters.
“With explicit bans on importing Russian crude in the US and UK, and oil companies reluctant to buy even without formal legal obstacles, self sanctions are still causing supply shortages,” said SPI Asset Management managing partner Stephen Innes in a note.
A record amount of Russia’s Urals crude oil is sitting in vessels at sea as it struggles to find buyers.
On the flip side is the strict approach to the Covid-19 pandemic from China, the world’s biggest oil importer. Beijing has imposed new curbs while Shanghai plans to keep most restrictions in place in May.
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