Iran Nuclear Tensions Boosting World Oil Prices

Posted February 24th, 2012 at 4:25 pm (UTC-5)
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The price of oil on world markets jumped again Friday amid growing tensions over the West's attempt to halt oil-producing Iran's nuclear program.

U.S. crude oil on the New York market rose for the seventh straight trading session, ending the week at $109.77 a barrel, a nine-month high. Brent crude sold on the London market advanced to $125.47 a barrel.

One U.S. oil analyst, Stephen Schork, said the price could continue to increase. He said traders are worried that U.S., Israel and European attempts to block Iran's development of nuclear weaponry “could deteriorate” into a new war in the Mideast. Iran says its nuclear program is designed for civilian purposes and has dismissed concerns expressed by the International Atomic Energy Agency that it is trying to build a nuclear bomb.

Tehran cut oil sales to Britain and France earlier this week. It has threatened to end sales to other European countries in advance of a European Union-led embargo of Iranian oil set to take effect July 1.

The increase in the price of crude oil has boosted the cost of gasoline for U.S. motorists to 96 cents a liter , the highest ever for the month of February. Normally, gasoline prices are much lower during the winter months in the U.S. before heading higher during the summer vacation months.

U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, said this week there are no “quick fixes” for the rising prices. But Republican presidential contenders seeking to oust him in next November's national election have blamed Mr. Obama's energy policies for the increased prices consumers are now paying at the gas pump.