Oil prices rose by a further $1.40 to $75.92 a barrel on 18 July, compared with $74.52 a barrel six days earlier, in the wake of unabated violence in the Middle East.
Israeli forces have been relentless in their bombing of targets in Lebanon for the eighth consecutive day, with at least 40 civilian deaths reported in the south and east. As part of its commitment to maintain oil market stability, on 14 July OPEC said: 'Geopolitical developments have been behind the strong upward pressure in the past few days and these have come at a time when the market is already out of line with the current supply and demand fundamentals. Speculation [is] playing a significant role in driving up prices.' It added that such developments have occurred despite the market remaining well supplied with crude and crude volumes continuing to enter the market well in excess of demand. 'OECD stocks are above their five-year average levels,' OPEC said. In the US, the Energy Information Agency (EIA) said in its delayed weekly report that stocks of oil declined to 335.3 million barrels for the week ending 7 July from 341.3 million barrels a week earlier. However, compared with the same period a year ago, crude oil stocks were still 14.3 million barrels more. Separately, the Department of Energy said that daily oil production rose to 5.275 million barrels a day (b/d) in mid-July from 5.129 million b/d a week earlier.