Brent Cracks $70 for First Time Since Pandemic Began After Saudi Facilities Attacked

Brent Cracks $70 for First Time Since Pandemic Began After Saudi Facilities Attacked
A maze of crude oil pipes and valves is pictured during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, on Jun. 9, 2016. (Richard Carson/Reuters)

SINGAPORE—Brent crude futures jumped above $70 a barrel on March 8 for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, while U.S. crude touched its highest in more than two years, following reports of attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.

Brent crude futures for May reached $71.16 a barrel in early Asian trade and were at $70.76 a barrel by 0036 GMT, up $1.40, or 2 percent. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for April rose $1.32, or 2 percent, to $67.41. The front-month WTI price touched $67.86 a barrel earlier, the highest since October 2018.

“Oil prices have spiked higher this morning after Iran-backed Houthi rebels unleashed a coordinated attack on Saudi Arabia oil facilities and military bases,” Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at Axi, said in a note.

Yemen’s Houthi forces fired drones and missiles at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry on March 7, including a Saudi Aramco facility at Ras Tanura vital to petroleum exports, in what Riyadh called a failed assault on global energy security.

Brent and WTI prices are up for the fourth consecutive session after OPEC and their allies decided to keep production cuts largely unchanged in April.

Despite fast-rising crude prices, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister has voiced doubts on-demand recovery.

Still, the energy minister in the world’s third-largest crude importer, India, said higher prices could threaten the consumption led-recovery in some countries.

By Florence Tan