Brent Prices Steady At $114 As Tension In Iraq Eyed
Brent crude oil made its way back above $114 on Wednesday as worries about the conflict in Iraq grew. The commodity traded at $114.23 a 6:10 GMT as Iraq's largest refinery remained at the center of a battle between Sunni insurgents and Iraqi forces.
The two sides have been fighting for control of Iraq's Baiji complex for a week, with both sides making and quickly losing progress. The complex is capable of producing 300,000 barrels per day and would put a dent in Iraq's exports if it were shut down. However, the nation's refineries to the South remain unaffected thus far.
Many analysts believe that the conflict in Iraq has already been priced in, and that Brent won't rise any higher unless the situation gets exponentially worse.
Related Link: Brent Retreats As Supply Interruption Worries Fade
Tension in Ukraine is also on the radar as pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces are cautiously laying down their weapons for a week long ceasefire. During that time, Ukraine will be working to gain Moscow's support for a peace plan that will end the region's conflict for good.
CNBC reported that OPEC Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri reassured markets on Tuesday that there is no oil shortage, and that the current price elevation is simply a reflection of jitters over the Iraq situation.
Meanwhile, WTI prices are expected to see a lift as most are expecting that the Energy Information Administration's US inventory data will show that US stocks fell last week. The report, due out later in the day on Wednesday, is forecast to show a 1.6 million barrel draw in US stocks. However, some see an even larger drop with some traders expecting declines as large as 4 million barrels.
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