What bothers me most about the attacks on these tankers is the fact that the resultant damage was so minimal - and that there has been no declaration of responsibility from anyone e.g. some terrorist organisation. So what was the real purpose here?
Considering that one ship was loaded with highly inflammable methanol, it could have exploded and sunk the entire ship and crew. So was that the intention but it failed? Or was it a pre-determined minimal damage/maximum exposure event? If the latter was indeed the intent then it required a huge degree of expertise and knowledge to avoid the enormous risk of blowing up the entire vessel?
But if the intention had been to destroy the ship then why attack two boats instead of concentrating on ensuring 100% success with only one? The impact of destroying one ship totally would have been just as great as two - and certainly far greater than the limited damage inflicted here.
So what was the motive and why? What the mission “successful” in their eyes or did it fail? Either way, this kind of attack is literally playing with fire and with a severe risk of getting out of control. The whole thing is very mysterious and doesn’t seem to bother oil markets much at all…
The markets remain vulnerable on the downside. This week will probably see even greater focus on the inventories data leading up to the OPEC+ meetings. Further evidence of bloating stock levels for crude, gasoline and distillates (mainly diesel) will undoubtedly fuel the weakness that is already present from weak economic data from various corners of the globe.
Various organisations and investment banks are downgrading their forecasts for economic growth, oil demand and oil prices for 2019 and 2020.
Neither does the coming G20 meeting seem to be offering much hope of any encouraging signals from a Trump/Jinping meeting regarding the trade war, except maybe an agreement to start talking again - if they even meet at all, that is!
As if that were not enough negative news on prices, there is also speculation that the Venezuelan situation could be resolved within a few months, followed by a rapid resurrection of the oil production infrastructure. How fast that can be is another issue, but the concept of a major producer like Venezuela returning to its former position as a significant factor in global oil supplies, in an era of possible economic recession in 2020, would be another serious depressant on oil prices.
At present, the only serious events that could significantly boost oil prices are a major escalation of military activity towards warfare in the middle east and/or a concrete positive change in the trade war outlook.
But, as the old sage might say, whenever things look their gloomiest, then …