Global oil prices have risen to breach the $80 a barrel mark for the first time in almost four years as the market reacts to a reigniting of geopolitical tensions and economic collapse among the world’s largest oil producers.
The price of Brent crude has tipped above $80 after a market rally of almost 20pc in a little under six weeks, fuelled by the resurgence of US sanctions against oil exports from Iran which has emerged as one of the world’s fastest growing oil producers in recent years.
Overall, the global benchmark has surged by 70pc in less than a year.
The economic collapse of Venezuela, also a major oil producing nation, has all but snuffed out its domestic oil production, in another blow to oil supplies.
“Supply concerns are top of mind after the United States left the Iran nuclear deal,” said Norbert Rücker, of Julius Baer. “The geo-political noise and escalation fears are here to stay.”
In addition, fresh US crude data which emerged on Wednesday piqued concerns by revealing a larger than expected drop in the country’s overall supplies ahead of the high-demand summer driving season.
Crude stocks fell by 1.4 million barrels last week, almost double the 763,000 barrel drop expected by analysts.
The US oil stocks slump combined with the economic woes of Iran and Venezuela have turned the long-standing concern about an oversupply of crude in the market on its head.
Since 2016 the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and a Russia-led alliance of countries outside of the cartel have been working to tackle an oversupply in the market by intentionally limiting output.
Saudi Arabia, Opec’s de facto leader, is understood to be pushing for $80 a barrel oil, or even $100 a barrel, to balance its state budget and boost the valuation of Saudi Aramco ahead of a much-anticipated IPO.