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Posted on  

September 24, 2002

Continuing their rise, oil prices hit 19-month high

November crude rises 87 in N.Y., to $30.71 a barrel

From Wire Reports Originally published September 24, 2002

NEW YORK - Crude oil prices rose to a 19-month high after Iraq refused to accept any new United Nations resolutions on weapons inspections, increasing the likelihood of a U.S. attack on the supplier of 2 percent of the world's oil.
Crude oil for November delivery rose 87 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $30.71 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest closing price since Feb. 9 last year. In London, the November Brent crude-oil futures contract rose 70 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $29.13 a barrel on the International Petroleum Exchange, the highest closing price since Sept. 14, 2001.

The threat of a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has helped boost oil prices 55 percent this year.

President Bush urged the United Nations to adopt a "strong resolution" to disarm Iraq and said Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has "deceived" the world about his program to develop weapons of mass destruction. A tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico that has delayed U.S. imports helped spur the rally.

"With Iraq rejecting resolutions we're another step closer to a war," said Tom Bentz, an analyst at BNP Paribas Futures Inc. in New York.

Iraq said Saturday that it wouldn't accept any resolutions countering its agreement with Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the return of U.N. weapons inspectors, the official Iraq News Agency said. Iraq agreed last week to more inspections without conditions based on previous U.N. resolutions.

"Statements of that sort will help Bush push his resolution through Congress, setting us up for a showdown," said Kyle Cooper, an analyst at Salomon Smith Barney Inc. in Houston.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the biggest U.S. crude-oil import terminal, suspended operations Sunday morning because of heavy seas in the Gulf of Mexico caused by Tropical Storm Isidore, according to Loop LLC, the port operator.

The terminal, about 20 miles off the Louisiana coast, handles about 1 million barrels of crude oil a day.

Meanwhile, the world's top crude producers and importers wrapped up a three-day energy conference in Osaka, Japan.

"We are watching the market closely, but we are not concerned yet," OPEC Secretary-General Alvaro Silva Calderon said on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum, held every two years to promote market stability through dialogue between buyers and sellers.

Silva repeated that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will put more crude onto the market if OPEC's price breaks out of its target range of between $22 and $28 for 20 trading days.

Big importers in the West wanted OPEC to raise its official output ceiling during a meeting in Osaka last week, but the oil producers refused, saying the supply remains adequate and that the price is inflated by a "war premium" estimated at $2 to $4 a barrel.

Bloomberg News and the Associated Press contributed to this article.



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