From guest blogger By Dian L. Chu at the EconForecast......
On Wednesday, Feb. 16 Israel said Iran is sending two warships into the Suez Canal on way to Syria, and that the action is considered a “provocation.” Due to the long history of bad blood between Israel and Iran, this very possible scenario was enough to even send the bear infested NYMEX crude oil futures volume surging midday.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) on Nymex rose to just below $85, while Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange spiked $2.17 higher to $103.81 a barrel, a 29 month high, widening the WTI Brent spread to a new record near $19.
High Middle East Tension
Then on Friday, Feb. 18, AFP reported that permission has been granted for Iranian warships to transit the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean. Canal officials say it would be the first time Iranian warships have made the passage since the 1979 Islamic revolution, while Israel has labeled the Iranian action as "hostile' and said Israel was closely monitoring the situation.
As the worst Israel-Iran conflict scenario failed to materialize, at the close Friday Feb. 18, Brent crude oil for April settled at $102.79 while WTI for April delivery rose to $89.71, narrowing the spread to $13.11.
Crude Glut at Cushing, OK
Since WTI is lighter and sweeter crude which requires less processing, it has historically enjoyed a $1 – $2 a barrel price premium to Brent crude oil. According to Bloomberg, the WTI Brent gap averaged only 76 cents last year.
However, WTI’s premium disappeared about a year ago and in recent days it has been trading at more than a $10/bbl discount to Brent mainly due to rising inventory levels at Cushing OK, the delivery and price settling point of Nymex crude futures.....Click Here to Read The Entire Article and View Dian's Charts.