U.S. Crude Rises Above $107 on Escalating Iraq Risks

Source: Reuters 6/16/2014, Location: Middle East

U.S. crude oil futures rose to a near nine-month high above $107 a barrel in Asian trade as an insurgency in Iraq intensifies concerns over a potential disruption to oil exports from the second-largest OPEC producer.

* U.S. crude oil climbed 43 cents to $107.34 per barrel as of 0000 GMT. On Friday, it rose as high as $107.68 before settling up 38 cents at $106.91 per barrel, the highest level since Sept. 18.

* Brent futures for the new spot month August contract rose 63 cents at $113.09 a barrel. The July contract, which expired on 14 June 2014, settled 39 cents higher at $113.41 per barrel, the highest since Sept. 9.

* Sunni insurgents seized a mainly ethnic Turkmen city in northwestern Iraq on Sunday after heavy fighting, solidifying their grip on the north after a lightning offensive that threatens to dismember Iraq.

* The United States ordered military personnel to boost security for its diplomatic staff in Baghdad on Sunday and said some staff were being evacuated from the embassy as the Iraqi government battled to hold off insurgent forces.

* The bulk of Iraq's current oil exports come from south of Baghdad, still far from the Islamist rebel fighters. Should the militants advance south of the capital, analysts expect them to encounter much greater resistance. Iraqi exports from the north are considered safe for the moment, analysts said, as the major Kirkuk oil hub is held by Kurdish forces.

* In Libya, its western El Feel oilfield has resumed production after security guards ended a protest that lasted more than two months, oil ministry officials said on 15 June 2014, but many oilfields and ports remain blocked.

* Syrian government forces retook Kasab on Sunday, ousting rebels from the village on the Turkish border in the coastal heartland of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite minority sect, activists and state media said.

* OPEC will have to produce a million barrels per day (bpd) more oil on average in the second half of 2014 to balance the global market, which will see a steep seasonal spike in demand, the West's energy agency International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its monthly report on 14 June 2014.

* Russia and Ukraine have failed to resolve a gas pricing dispute and a 0600 GMT deadline for Kiev to pay $1.95 billion in gas debts still stands, a spokesman for Russian natural gas producer Gazprom said on 16 June 2014.

* The United States is preparing to open a direct dialogue with longtime adversary Iran on security in Iraq and ways to push back Sunni militants who have taken over large areas of the country, the Wall Street Journal reported on 15 June 2014.

* The dollar strengthened against a basket of major currencies on Friday as the Iraqi violence triggered a safety bid for the U.S. unit. Higher U.S. bond yields also underpinned the move. European stocks closed slightly lower but shares on Wall Street rose.

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