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Oil prices rise to near US$100 a barrel on concerns over Turkish incursions into Iraq

Oil prices rise to near US$100 a barrel on concerns over Turkish incursions into Iraq

Oil prices rose to near US$100 a barrel Monday as the Turkish incursion into northern Iraq and warnings by Iran against further sanctions heightened concerns over potential crude supply disruptions.
Turkish troops fired more than 40 salvos of artillery shells Monday across the Iraqi border against Kurdish rebels, a day after the military confirmed a Turkish helicopter crashed in Iraq and eight soldiers were killed.
"The market perception is that (the incursion) could threaten the supply of crude from northern Iraq," said Victor Shum, an energy analyst with Purvin & Gertz in Singapore.
Turkey serves as an oil and gas transportation hub, and Iraq is a major crude supplier to Europe.
Light, sweet crude for April delivery rose 23 cents to US$99.04 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by mid-afternoon in Europe. It has climbed as high as US$99.70 a barrel earlier in the electronic session.
On Friday, the contract settled 58 cents, or 0.6 percent, higher at US$98.81 a barrel.
In London, Brent crude rose 6 cents to US$97.07 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
Some analysts noted a concentration of long positions _ speculating that prices will rise _ in the hand "of a few market makers," which could cause rising volatility.
"Apart from speculative funds pursuing technical targets, we find that the overall picture still fails to properly define the rationale for the continuation of the rally to new record highs," said Olivier Jakob, of Petromatrix in Switzerland.
Also driving prices higher was a threat by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday that Tehran would take unspecified "decisive reciprocal measures" against any country that imposed additional sanctions against his country.
Ahmadinejad's warning came after the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday that many past questions about Iran's nuclear program had been resolved, but still highlighted Tehran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment, paving the way for the next set of sanctions.
Iran is already under two sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment. The five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany have agreed on a draft resolution for a third set of sanctions.
"The IAEA's latest report last week on Iran again turned a focus on Iran's nuclear program which raises questions about sanctions, and that has in turn added to the mix that has left oil prices higher," said David Moore, a commodity strategist with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney.
Tehran insists its program is intended only to produce energy. The U.S. and some of its allies suspect it could lead to weapons development.
In other Nymex trading, heating oil futures added 0.43 cent to US$2.7673 a gallon (3.8 liters) while gasoline prices rose 0.58 cents to US$2.5395 a gallon.
Natural gas futures added 15.3 cents to US$9.299 per 1,000 cubic feet.
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Associated Press writer Gillian Wong in Singapore contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-03-04 15:18 GMT+08:00