Grant Smith and Christian Schmollinger
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Oil rose, extending this year’s 48 percent gain, after ABC News reported Israel is increasingly likely to attack Iran this year, starting a conflict that would threaten supplies from the Middle East.
Israel may bomb Iran if OPEC’s second-largest producer acquires enough enriched uranium to build a weapon, the report said, citing an unidentified Pentagon official. Oil also gained as BP Plc said Russian government pressure on staff at its TNK- BP unit may hurt production and the IEA warned that spare OPEC capacity will shrink by 2013.
“The market has been particularly sensitive to supply issues lately, and so the possibility of any new conflict in the Middle East or production disputes in Russia, inevitably pours fuel on the fire,” said Christopher Bellew, a senior broker at Bache Commodities Ltd. in London.
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Crude oil for August delivery rose as much as $2.73, or 2 percent, to $142.73 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was at $142.35 a barrel at 12:09 p.m. London time.
Yesterday, it touched a record $143.67 before retreating to settle 21 cents lower at $140 a barrel. The price climbed 38 percent between April and June, the biggest quarterly increase in nine years.
The U.S. won’t allow Iran to shut the Strait of Hormuz, through which about 40 percent of Middle East oil is shipped, a spokesman for the Fifth Fleet said yesterday. Among the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries only Saudi Arabia produces more than Iran.
“They will not close it,” Lieutenant Nate Christensen said in a telephone interview yesterday from Bahrain, where the fleet is based. “The Strait of Hormuz is vital international waters.”
The fleet’s comments were in response to remarks by the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard two days ago that his country may close the strait if attacked by Israel.
This article was posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 3:20 am