Oil surges above $71 as Iraqi fears return

LONDON - Oil rose above $71 on Friday as violence continued unabated in Iraq, dashing some hopes that the death of a top Al Qaeda leader would turn the tide for the country’s struggling oil sector.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Fri 9 Jun 2006, 10:36 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 3:23 PM

US crude oil CLc1 rose 95 cents to $71.30 a barrel by 1410 GMT, trimming this week’s losses of around 3 per cent. London Brent crude LCOc1 jumped $1.30 to $70.35 a barrel.

Prices fell sharply on Thursday after US aircraft killed Al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, raising some hope for an improvement in security.

“Yesterday’s move was totally overdone,” said Craig Pennington, an analyst at investment bank Schroders. “We can’t assume the destruction going on in Iraq is done by just one person.”

Iraq’s oil minister Hussain Al Shahristani told Reuters on Thursday that this would reduce violence and help improve Iraq’s oil production, particularly in the north.

Analysts warned however against reading too much into the killing of Zarqawi, who masterminded the deaths of hundreds in bombings, saying it would not end threats to an oil sector curtailed by decades of war and sanctions.

On the same day of Zarqawi’s death, gunmen kidnapped a senior official of Iraq’s oil ministry after he left work in Baghdad. Also, a string of bombs in Baghdad killed at least 31 people and wounded scores.

Iraq is struggling to pump 2 million barrels per day (bpd), down from about 2.5 million bpd before the US-led invasion in 2003.

Prices also found support after tensions reignited between the West and Iran as Tehran launched a fresh round of uranium enrichment.

Iran launched a fresh round of uranium enrichment this week just as world powers offered it incentives to halt nuclear fuel work with the potential to produce atomic bombs, a UN watchdog said on Thursday.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday the Islamic state would “talk about mutual concerns and solving misunderstandings in the international arena.”

But the president’s remarks came a day after Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh said Iran could still use its oil exports for leverage in the dispute over its nuclear programme.

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