Oil price on the rise again

January 5, 2009

, LONDON, January 5 – Oil prices rose back above 47 dollars on Monday as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict raged on and major crude producer Iran said OPEC would hold a special meeting next month.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in February climbed 78 cents to 47.69 dollars a barrel in late morning trade on London\’s InterContinental Exchange.

New York\’s main contract, light sweet crude for February, gained 67 cents to 47.01 dollars.

Crude futures have been boosted over the past week as the conflict in Gaza stokes tensions in the key oil-producing Middle East.

The Gaza conflict has added to the "geopolitical risk premium embodied in the oil price," said David Moore, an analyst at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Israeli warplanes carried out intensive raids on Hamas targets Monday as ground troops surrounded Gaza\’s main city, while Israel faced mounting diplomatic pressure for a ceasefire.

Elsewhere, Iran\’s OPEC representative Mohammad Ali Khatibi on Monday said that the oil producers\’ cartel would hold an extraordinary meeting in Kuwait in February.

"The extraordinary meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is due to be held next month in Kuwait," Khatibi was quoted as saying by state television.

"The exact date has not been fixed yet and no invitation has been sent to the members either," he added in a statement posted online.

OPEC, whose 12 members together produce about 40 percent of world oil, last month agreed to cut output by 2.2 million barrels per day in a bid to shore up crude prices.

World oil prices fell by about 54 percent in 2008 as a sharp global economic slowdown weighed on energy demand in the second half of the year.

However, in the first half, crude futures rocketed to record highs of above 147 dollars a barrel in July on fears of supply disruptions.

Towards the end of 2008, prices slumped to just above 33 dollars — the lowest in four and a half years.

Crude oil had begun 2008 by vaulting above 100 dollars for the first time as traders worried about violence in oil exporter Nigeria and supply problems in the key US energy market.

Continued geopolitical tensions then saw oil rocket above 120, 130 and 140 dollars on their way to setting all-time highs by mid-year.

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