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Monday, February 21, 2011

$100 Oil

by Calculated Risk on 2/21/2011 07:38:00 PM

• From Reuters: Brent Hits 2-1/2 Year High on Libya Export Concerns

Clashes in oil producer Libya sent benchmark Brent crude to 2-1/2-year highs on Monday above $105 a barrel on fears that supplies to Western countries could be disrupted, while U.S. prices rallied by more than $4.
• From the WSJ: The Stealth Return of $100 Oil
The days of $100 oil are back—and not just in Europe, where the Brent crude benchmark vaulted past $108 a barrel on Monday.

While U.S. prices haven't scaled such heights ... many U.S. oil refiners and consumers are finding their costs have already escalated.
• From Gail the Actuary at the Oil Drum: Why are WTI and Brent Oil Prices so Different?
We have all heard at least a partial explanation as to why West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent prices are so far apart. We have been told that the Midwest is oversupplied because of all of the Canadian imports, and the crude oil cannot get down as far as the Gulf Coast, because while there is pipeline capacity to the Midwest, there isn’t adequate pipeline capacity to the Gulf Coast. I have done a little research and tried to add some more context and details. For example, the opening of two pipelines from Canada (one on April 1, 2010 and one on February 8, 2011) seems to be contributing to the problem, as is rising North Dakota oil production.

There are two pipelines (Seaway – 430,000 barrels a day capacity and Capline – 1.2 million barrels a day capacity) bringing oil up from the Gulf to the Midwest. It is really the conflict between the oil coming up from the Gulf and the oil from the North that is leading to excessive crude oil supply for Midwest refineries and the resulting lower price for WTI crude oil at Cushing. Demand for output from the refineries remains high though, so prices for refined products remains high, even as prices for crude oil are low.
• Some earlier analysis from Professor Hamilton at Econbrowser: Geopolitical unrest and world oil markets

Note: U.S. Markets were closed today in observance of Presidents' Day. Here are the weekly schedule and summary:
Summary for Week ending February 19th
Schedule for Week of February 20th