Oil prices flat as market factor in supply uncertainties

By Anadolu Agency

Crude oil prices stayed in a narrow range on Tuesday’s light trade over the Christmas holiday as markets weighed the prospect of supply disruptions in Red Sea trading routes.

The international benchmark crude Brent traded at $78.99 per barrel at 0659 GMT, a 0.24% increase from the closing price of $78.80 a barrel in the previous trading session on Friday.

The American benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), traded at the same time at $73.73 per barrel, up 0.23% from Friday’s close of $73.56 per barrel.

Oil prices continue with some strength amid tensions in the Middle East, the region that holds most of the world’s oil reserves, and transport bottlenecks in the Red Sea.

The Houthi group in Yemen declared that ships owned or controlled by Israeli enterprises would be attacked in retaliation for Israel’s attacks on the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The Red Sea is one of the most important trading routes in the world, as approximately 12% of global trade passes through the Suez Canal.

Gideon Golber, the director general of the Port of Eilat in southern Israel, said that the port’s activity has plummeted 85% since the Houthis began attacks in the Red Sea on ships linked to or cooperating with Israel.

Following these Houthi attacks, several international companies, including the Italian and Swiss-owned Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), Denmark-based shipper Maersk, German shipper Hapag-Lloyd, and France-based shipper CMA CGM, suspended all sailings in the Red Sea.

After the British energy company bp’s announcement that it would halt all tanker traffic in the Red Sea, concerns were raised that seaborn deliveries, which have so far mostly affected the transportation of goods, could expand to energy shipments.

However, the prospect of higher production next year suppressed oil price gains.

Both OPEC and the International Energy Agency warned in their recent respective market reports of this prospect.

Angola left the OPEC group over disagreements on output cuts, and the African country is now expected to ramp up its production.