U.S. crude oil prices finished the month of July on a very positive note. Front-month futures ended July at just above $105 a barrel.
That put those futures up about 9% for July, the largest one-month gain for crude oil in 11 months.
Part of the reason for the upward move is the usual geopolitical tension in the Middle East and North Africa with Egypt at the forefront right now.
Current OPEC oil production is also a problem.
The International Energy Agency's latest monthly report showed OPEC output dropped in June by 370,000 barrels a day. Production fell in Iraq, Libya and Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia was not able to compensate for the lost output entirely.
Saudi production is already at 9.7 million barrels a day, not far below its 2012 peak output of 10.1 million barrels a day. So many in the industry believe the Saudis have little spare production capacity left to make up for shortfalls elsewhere in OPEC.
Another key reason for oil's rise is literally physical, as pointed out by Money Morning Global Energy Strategist Dr. Kent Moors.
U.S. government numbers showed that oil inventories at the Cushing, OK delivery center fell for the fifth straight week to levels not seen since April 2012. New infrastructure is moving oil from the former oil choke point at Cushing to facilities on the U.S. Gulf coast.
There are other very fundamental reasons behind oil's move higher….
What's Driving Oil Prices Higher
First and foremost is an unexpected increase in demand for oil from the developed world.
In the United States, oil refineries are processing the most crude oil since 2005.
Part of that is due to increased refining capacity with the opening this year of the largest U.S. refinery – the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, TX, which is owned by Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco. Once again, improved infrastructure – pipeline and rails – has raised refineries' access to crude oil.
This other source of increased demand may surprise you…