Frac Spread: Iran Crisis Vs. China Talks—A Good Trade

Oil prices retreat after the Middle East tensions eased, but stronger fundamentals could emerge if trade initiatives succeed.

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Swiftly after, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell 4%, giving up essentially all of the gains built up since missiles fired from a U.S. drone killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3. The price peaked on Jan. 7 following news of Iranian missile strikes on two military bases in Iraq. Those attacks appeared designed to avoid casualties and the focus on fundamentals returned.

“Before the U.S. energy revolution took off, American consumers were generally vulnerable to price shocks due to instability in the Middle East,” said Dean Foreman, chief economist of the American Petroleum Institute in an email to “However, the rise of U.S. energy leadership has helped to reduce market volatility by about half since 2014. Consequently, recent geopolitical events have had relatively small effects on energy prices and provide a consistent reminder of how vital it is to have a strong domestic U.S. oil and gas industry.”

The outlook for global trade appears somewhat brighter, at least early in the New Year. Akin Gump described the international trade landscape as “poised for change.”

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Joseph Markman

Joseph Markman, senior editor for Hart Energy, covers markets and provides data analysis for all Hart Energy editorial products.