US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October delivery rose 16 cents to USD 91.83 while Brent crude for October gained 14 cents to USD 98.18 in mid-morning trade. In a prime-time televised address, Obama said the US was ready to strike the "Islamic State" (IS) in Syria, while vowing to expand operations against them in neighbouring Iraq.
The Islamic State group, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has overrun large swathes of Iraq and Syria and declared a "caliphate" in those areas. The sweeping offensive began on June 9, preventing Baghdad from exporting oil via a pipeline to Turkey and by road to Jordan. In Syria, a three-year civil war between the government and insurgents including IS has seen production diminish from 400,000 barrels a day in 2010 to around 25,000 barrels a day in January, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said oil prices are unlikely to surge after Obama's speech. "Unless there is a dramatic escalation in the situation with the Islamic State, we are unlikely to see crude supplies being threatened," Chua told AFP. "The global supply glut combined with signs of weak demand will continue to contribute to a somewhat slackening of oil prices," he said.
The Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries yesterday said in a report that demand would grow by 1.05 million barrels per day in 2014 to 91.2 million barrels, trimming 50,000 from the previous outlook. Demand in 2015 is expected to grow 1.19 million barrels per day, 20,000 barrels a day fewer than before, the cartel said.