Aug 13 2012
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OIL FUTURES: Crude Prices Up Amid Building Geopolitical Risk
Monday, Aug 13, 2012
--Potential rise in Middle East tensions pushes futures higher
--Geopolitical premium seen higher than in second quarter, analyst says
--Brent premium over Nymex crude around $21 a barrel
By Konstantin Rozhnov
Oil prices are now driven up by geopolitical risk, which is building again on fears that a military conflict in the oil-rich Middle East could severely disrupt crude supplies from the region, including from Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter.
At 1043 GMT, the front-month September Brent contract on London's ICE futures exchange was $1.53, or 1.4%, higher at $114.48 a barrel. Brent has risen to the highest level in three months.
The front-month September contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange traded up 69 cents, or 0.7%, at $93.56 per barrel.
Oil prices are higher despite a bleak demand picture, including weaker-than-expected economic growth numbers from Japan, one of the key Asian economies and oil consumers, reported overnight, said Thina Saltvedt, a senior oil-market analyst at Nordea Bank Norge.
For weeks, oil markets were driven mainly by macroeconomic releases in Asia, Europe and the U.S. At the same time, market discussions about the Iran-Israel issue were on hold for a while. But the recent media reports related to tensions around Iran's nuclear program have started these discussions again, said Ms Saltvedt.
"While the tone out of Israel has indeed become more aggressive, we still think that Israel is unlikely to take unilateral military action against Iran," said JBC Energy.
Nevertheless, geopolitical risk is likely to be higher going forward than seen in the second quarter, said Ms. Saltvedt.
Brent is benefiting more from the recent developments in the Middle East than Nymex crude, with Brent's premium over the U.S. benchmark standing at around $21 a barrel, the widest level since early April.
"Driving the price upwards are still the risks to supply such as the decline in North Sea production and the tensions in the Near and Middle East," said Commerzbank.
"Consequently, financial investors are also beginning to bet on climbing prices again, thereby reinforcing the upswing," the bank said in a note.
At 1043 GMT, the ICE's gasoil contract for September delivery was up $8.50, or 0.9%, at $963.50 per metric ton, while Nymex gasoline for September delivery was 320 points, or 1.1%, higher at $3.0359 per gallon.
-Write to Konstantin Rozhnov at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 13, 2012 07:45 ET (11:45 GMT)
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