WINDERMERE, Fla. ( Stockpickr) -- Companies that are highly leveraged to the domestic crude oil market look to be in for one heck of a fantastic 2011, now that a number of large oil exporting nations are locked in political unrest.
Unless you live around a rock, you've probably already heard about how strong crude oil is acting on the commodity exchanges. West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery is currently trading above $101 a barrel, and Brent crude oil is doing even better, trading at around $114 per barrel. The trend is so strong in crude oil that West Texas Intermediate crude registered its largest weekly gain in over two years last week, rising by more than 9%.
The unrest in the Middle East is clearly the catalyst that is helping to push crude oil prices through the roof. The fear in the markets is that the turmoil in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Egypt is going to spread throughout the rest of the region and potentially hit some of the largest oil-exporting nations. Some of those fears are starting to become a reality now, with protests already starting to pop up in both Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis are so concerned about the potential of a political uprising that they've recently announced a huge social benefits package that totaled more than $35 billion and included unemployment benefits, housing subsidies, funds to support the study abroad and a number of new job opportunities created by the state. The Saudis are taking such drastic action because they know if there was to be a toppling of their regime it would destabilize the entire world energy market. For the record, there really is no precedent for what could happen if Saudi Arabia's oil production went offline.Related: Cramer's U.S. Oil Stocks to Consider How serious is the situation in Saudi Arabia? Well, it's serious enough when you consider that there's a Facebook campaign calling for a "day of rage" in Saudi Arabia on March 11. The protesters are demanding an elected ruler, greater freedom for women and the release of political prisoners. Keep March 11 on your radar because if the unrest does take hold, it could be a game change for the crude oil market.