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Oil prices continue to soar on geopolitics

LONDON, May 10, 2018 – Oil prices touched another three-and-a-half-year high on Thursday, as escalating geopolitical tensions in the Middle East cast further uncertainty about supply disruptions from the region.

Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., at one point touched their highest since November 2014 at $78.00 per barrel. It was last at $77.25 barrel by 9:05AM ET (1305GMT), little changed on the day.

Meanwhile, New York-traded WTI crude futures were at $71.25 a barrel, after rising as high as $71.89 earlier in the session, also highs last seen in late 2014.

Fresh highs for oil came after Iranian forces in Syria launched a rocket attack on Israeli army bases in the Golan Heights, Israel said, prompting one of the heaviest Israeli barrages in Syria since the conflict there began in 2011.

Worries about Iran, including its nuclear deal with major world powers, have been key to oil’s recent rally to late-2014 levels.

 

Prices rallied sharply this week after U.S. President Donald Trump walked away from an international nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed “the highest level of economic sanctions” against the country.

Some analysts have said the reinstatement of sanctions could lead to tighter global oil supplies as they make it more difficult for Iran to export oil.

Iran, which is a major Middle East oil producer and member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), resumed its role as a major oil exporter in January 2016 when international sanctions against Tehran were lifted in return for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.

Another bullish factor helping oil prices, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday that crude supplies fell by a more-than-expected 2.2 million barrels for the week ended May 4.

The report also showed that domestic oil production- driven by shale extraction – rose to a fresh all-time high of 10.70 million barrels per day (bpd) last week. Only Russia currently produces more, at around 11 million bpd.

In other energy trading, natural gas futures were a shade higher at $2.758 per million British thermal units, as traders looked ahead to weekly storage data due later in the global day amid expectations for an increase of 81 billion cubic feet.

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