IT USED to be said that America’s shale producers were the new “swing factor” in global oil markets. It turns out that role is being taken by America’s president.
At a time when oil prices are at three-and-a-half-year highs, markets are being buffeted by three countervailing forces unleashed by President Donald Trump: his geopolitical agenda, particularly sanctions on Iran; his domestic political agenda, to lower American petrol prices before the mid-term elections; and his looming trade war with China. If he does not get his way, he may have a dangerous weapon up his sleeve—America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). His meddling risks making OPEC, the oil cartel that is a focus of his wrath, look like a paragon of predictability.
First, geopolitics. Despite an agreement late last month by Saudi-led OPEC and Russia to increase output by up to 1m barrels a day (b/d), the price of Brent crude, a benchmark, has risen to…Continue reading