Tensions in the Middle East rose again over the weekend after reports indicated that four oil vessels were “attacked” or “sabotaged” at the mouth of the Persian Gulf near Fujairah Emirate, just outside of the Strait of Hormuz. The United Arab Amirates (UAE) stated that the damaged ships were two crude oil tankers owned by Saudi Arabian shipping firm Bahri, one fuel bunker barge flying a UAE flag and Norwegian oil products tanker owned by Thome Ship management. These reports are still largely unconfirmed, but come as no surprise given the recent rhetoric and geopolitical tensions facing the region.
Global oil prices shot up quickly this week following reports that the Trump administration has decided to let Iranian oil sanctions exemptions expire at the end of the month. By ending sanctions exemptions, the administration has accelerated its goal of forcing Iran’s oil exports to zero. At a Monday press conference, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo clearly laid out the purpose of ending the waivers by stating “We are going to zero. How long we remain there, at zero, depends solely on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s senior leaders. We’ve made our demands very clear to the ayatollah and his cronies.”
March 21st marks the start of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, also known as March Madness, and you know what that means; an unproductive work force. Managers and HR departments struggle to keep their employees operating at a normal production level, and according to Chris Morris from www.fortune.com, “the average worker will spend up to six paid hours focusing on sports related activities during the tournament.”
Two major investment banks, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Barclays, have recently predicted that oil prices in the medium-term will remain locked in around $60/barrel until 2024. Bank of America believes that crude prices will bounce between $50/barrel and $70/barrel, but will remain centered around $60/barrel and most likely won’t leave that range. Barclays largely agrees with Bank of America in the belief that the volatility won’t continue and we’ll have relatively stable oil prices through the mid-2020s.
Everyone involved in the world of commercial trucking is familiar with the term IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement), but not everyone knows why IFTA exists and what its intended functions are. IFTA is an agreement between the majority of U.S. states and the majority of Canadian provinces designed to simplify the way that commercial truck or bus drivers who travel through multiple tax jurisdictions report the taxes on the fuel they purchase.