Oil prices have risen back to the mid-$70s this week as a result of tighter U.S. crude inventories and a force majeure on Libyan crude oil exports. The interdependence of oil prices and Omicron news updates has subsided somewhat this week as the overall decline in US crude stocks and the Libyan supply disruption have been moving prices upwards, OilPrice said. 

Despite US crude supply hovering around 11.6-11.7 million b/d, robust demand triggered another week-on-week decline in inventories at a whopping 4.7 million barrels. Libya degenerating into another bout of internal strife has taken off some 300,000 b/d of crude in an instant, providing a welcome Christmas gift for the oil bulls. As of Tuesday, Brent traded around $75.5 per barrel whilst US benchmark WTI was last seen around $73 per barrel, Oil Price reports.

US SPR inventories drop to lowest in 19 years. With the US pushing through with its planned SPR releases, the total stock of strategic crude reserves fell to 596 million barrels, the lowest it has been since November 2002. Exxon’s Baytown refinery suffers major accident. The integrated 560,000 b/d Baytown refining complex operated by ExxonMobil in Texas saw a major industrial accident after a bypass line leak caused a fire in the refinery’s desulfurization unit. 

Nigeria crude exports hit by another force majeure. The Nigerian subsidiary of oil major Shellwas forced to declare force majeure at the Forcados export terminal this week after a malfunctioning barge continues to block tanker access and loading operations, the second FM this year already. 

Iran talks reconvene for Post-Christmas round.The eight iteration of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program will start 27 December in Vienna, less than two weeks after the previous session was cut short by the Iranian delegation. Sri Lanka to repay oil debt to Iran by bartering tea. Struggling to repay its debt commitments, Sri Lanka plans to settle its $251 million debt in oil import dues to Iran by bartering tea throughout the upcoming four years, in a bid that would not trigger US sanctions. 

Iran seeks to build a $10 billion heavy oil refinery. According to a draft budget for the next Iranian year starting in March, Teheran is looking into the construction of a 300,000 b/d new oil refinery named after Qasem Soleimani in Bandar Abbas, to be geared towards heavy oil refining, OilPrice said.