Oil market on alert as Middle East conflict widens

By Shelby Webb | 04/16/2024 06:37 AM EDT

Triple-digit crude prices are possible as tensions rise between Israel and other countries in the region.

Pump jacks in New Mexico.

Pump jacks near Lovington, New Mexico. Charlie Riedel/AP

Concerns about a broadening conflict in the Middle East could send oil prices surging toward $100 a barrel, but on Monday the oil market’s response to a weekend attack in the region was muted.

Analysts said Iran’s drone and missile strikes on Israel had a more limited effect on oil prices than originally expected, though Israel has signaled it plans to retaliate.

Brent — the global oil benchmark — closed slightly lower at about $90 per barrel Monday, while a barrel of West Texas Intermediate oil settled at roughly $85. The price of oil affects how much U.S. drivers pay for gasoline at the pump, which could become a key issue in this year’s presidential election that’s expected to include President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.


“The market is breathing somewhat of a sigh of relief because, at least for now, the escalation could be over with Iran suggesting this is it,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis with Gas Buddy, a service that tracks the price of fuel. “If Israel responds, that could change the game again, but at least for now there’s really no major impact on the price of oil.”