Singapore: World oil prices traded flat above $99 a barrel in Asian trade Tuesday, supported by supply worries over Turkey’s offensive in Iraq and fears of an Opec output cut, dealers said.
In morning trade, New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, gained four cents to $99.27 per barrel.
The contract closed up 42 cents at $99.23 a barrel during floor trading on Monday at the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent North Sea crude for April delivery fell five cents to $97.64, after settling 68 cents higher at $97.69 Monday in London.
“Prices are trading at a narrower range but it is still at a high level,” said David Moore, a commodity strategist with Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney.
He said prices “are supported by colder weather in the US, expectations of a cut in production and geopolitical worries”.
Turkish fighter jets pounded Kurdish rebel positions for the fifth day Monday in the mountainous Hakurk region of northern Iraq, security sources told AFP.
Ankara says an estimated 4,000 PKK rebels are holed up in northern Iraq and use the region as a springboard for attacks on Turkish territory as part of their campaign for self-rule in Kurdish-majority southeast Turkey.
The Iraqi oil ministry said Saturday the action has not affected Iraqi exports of 300,000 barrels of oil per day through Turkey.
Iraq’s northern oil fields are connected to the Turkish port of Ceyhan by a pipeline that crosses the two countries’ border in northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, where Turkish troops are fighting separatist rebels.
Most of Iraq’s oil, a further 1.6 million barrels per day, is exported through the southern port of Basra.
The price of New York crude hit a record high $101.32 on 20 February as traders fretted over tight supplies, which have also been hampered by geopolitical unrest in Opec members Venezuela and Nigeria.
Recent price levels of $101 reflected market expectations of a production cut by the Opec crude producers’ group, Opec president Chakib Khelil said in a statement in the Algerian press Monday.
Khelil indicated that the powerful 13-nation Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Ooec) would not increase production at a ministerial output meeting next week.
“The market has taken account of this probability (an OPEC output cut),” said Khelil, who is also Algeria’s energy minister.