Oil prices rose on Thursday morning in Asia as concerns about supply soared on the threat of imminent U.S. military action in Syria, which sent oil prices to their highest levels since late 2014.
Crude Oil WTI Futures for May delivery were trading at $67.16 a barrel in Asia at 11:20PM ET (03:20 GMT), up 0.51%. Brent Oil Futures for June delivery, traded in London, were up 0.37% at $72.33 per barrel.
U.S. President Donald Trump declared that missiles “will be coming” to Syria, taunting Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after a suspected chemical attack on rebels. Damascus and Moscow have denied any responsibility.
Trump’s comments raised concerns of direct conflict over Syria, which has also escalated a rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Tensions further intensified as Saudi Arabia said its air defense forces intercepted three ballistic missiles fired at Riyadh and other cities by Yemen’s Houthis.
Although Syria is not a key oil producer, the wider Middle East is the world’s most important crude exporter and tension in the region tends to disrupt oil markets.
Both WTI and Brent traded at the highest levels since 2014 as geopolitical concerns overshadowed a surprise buildup in U.S. crude inventories.
Meanwhile, Shanghai Crude Oil WTI Futures for September delivery were up 2.22% at 427.50 yuan ($68.10) per barrel at 11:20PM ET (03:20 GMT) on Thursday.
Concerns over a prolonged trade dispute between the U.S. and China are easing. Healthy demand and the supply restraint led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia also continue to support oil markets.
However, soaring U.S. crude production, which has increased by a quarter since mid-2016 to 10.46 million barrels per day (bpd), is undermining OPEC’s efforts to tighten the oversupply and prop up prices.
U.S. crude oil production is expected to rise to 11.44 million bpd in 2019, making the U.S. the world’s biggest oil producer, surpassing Russia which currently pumps out around 11 million bpd.