Oil prices near 9-mth high on Turkey-Iraq raid
LONDON: Oil prices steadied at $71 a barrel on Thursday, near a nine-month high, after a raid by Turkish troops into northern Iraq revived worries over exports from the Middle East, which pumps a quarter of the world’s oil.
Data showing US refiners were struggling to boost summer fuel production and Cyclone Gonu’s disruption of Omani oil and gas exports lent additional support to the market, keeping Brent crude within a dollar of late May’s $71.80 high.
London Brent crude rose for a sixth day and was up eight cents at $71.10 a barrel at 0909 GMT after rising 57 cents on Wednesday. US crude rose 20 cents to $66.16.
Turkey denied a report on Wednesday it had launched a major incursion into northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels, but a military source said troops had conducted a limited raid across the mountainous border. “It’s easy to think it can turn into a longer and nastier (conflict),” said Tobin Gorey, a commodity strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Anger is mounting in Turkey over the activity of Turkish Kurdish rebels using the mountains of northern Iraq as a refuge. Northern Iraq is rich in oil, although exports via a pipeline through Turkey have been effectively halted for three years.
Weekly US inventory data showing a surprise drop in refinery utilisation rates last week added to gains, overshadowing an unseasonally large 3.5 million barrel build in gasoline stocks thanks to a surge in imports. With gasoline stocks still in a near 10-million-barrel deficit compared to their normal levels and refiners utilisation falling to below 90 percent, the weakest early-June level in 15 years, traders remained anxious over driving season supplies. reuters