Early Morning Kommentar

 -  Asia midday crude futures: Ice Brent rises

16 April (Argus) — Ice Brent crude futures rose in early Asian trading today as the market continues to keep close watch over Israel's response to Iran's attacks.

At 04:00 GMT, the Ice front-month June Brent contract was at $90.57/bl, up by 47¢/bl from its settlement on 15 April when the contract ended 35¢/bl lower.

The Nymex front-month May crude contract was at $85.88/bl, higher by 47¢/bl from its settlement on 15 April when the contract ended 25¢/bl lower.

US president Joe Biden's administration is discouraging Israel from retaliating against an unprecedented drone and missile attack from Iran on 13 April, in an effort to prevent a wider conflict in the Middle East.

The US is separately pushing forward with efforts to enable a ceasefire in Gaza, which will ensure that the conflict does not spread further, Biden said.

"The US is committed to Israel's defense," US secretary of state Tony Blinken said. "What this weekend demonstrated is that Israel did not have to and does not have to defend itself alone when it is the victim of an aggression."

Mideast Gulf tanker freight markets were largely unaffected by the Iranian attacks.

Earlier on 13 April, Iranian naval vessels seized the Portuguese-flagged, UK-owned MSC Aries container ship transiting through the Gulf of Oman. MSC, which operates the ship, leases it from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, which is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.

Market participants said there had been no effect so far on tanker markets in the Mideast Gulf. Most people will be waiting to see how others react, a tanker broker said, while another said market participants are waiting to see how Israel will respond.

Exports of Iraqi Basrah crude hit an 11-month low in March, driven by a fall in shipments to Europe. Exports marketed by state-owned Somo were down for a third consecutive month, by nearly 3pc compared with February, at 3.34mn b/d. Tensions in the Red Sea prevented Basrah crude and other Mideast Gulf crudes from reaching European destinations via that route.

In Russia, Forteinvest's 135,000 b/d Orsk refinery may restart operations at around 50pc of its capacity on 17-18 April as the situation in the city is returning to normal after the flooding, according to market participants.