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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - NEW YORK: Oil prices rose on Tuesday as attacks by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi militants on ships in the Red Sea disrupted maritime trade and forced companies to reroute vessels, according to Reuters.
Brent crude futures rose 21 cents, or 0.27 percent, to $78.16 a barrel at 8:30 a.m. Saudi time. The front-month US West Texas Intermediate crude futures contract, which expires on Tuesday, rose 3 cents to $72.50 a barrel. The more active second-month contract was up 6 cents, or 0.08 percent, to $72.88.
Both benchmarks rose more than 1 percent on Monday on concerns about shippers diverting vessels away from the Red Sea.
“Despite price stabilization today, the potential risks caused by supply disruptions and the Middle East unrest could bring significant volatility to oil markets,” said Tina Teng, an analyst at CMC Markets in Auckland.
“Oil markets may face further upside pressure if geopolitical tensions get escalated,” she added.
Oil major BP temporarily paused all transits through the Red Sea and oil tanker group Frontline said on Monday its vessels would avoid passage through the waterway, signs the crisis was broadening to include energy shipments.
About 15 percent of world shipping traffic transits via the Suez Canal, which connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, offering the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.
The shipping attacks have prompted the US and its allies to discuss a task force that would protect Red Sea routes, a move that US and Israeli arch-foe Iran has warned would be a mistake.
“Given that there has been a prompt collective response from several countries to mitigate attacks, it may not provide much conviction that disruptions may be long-lasting and that led to some reservations reflected in oil prices in today’s session,” said Jun Rong Yeap, a market strategist at IG in Singapore.
In Iran, Oil Minister Javad Owji on Monday confirmed a nationwide disruption to petrol stations was caused by a cyberattack.
A hacking group that Iran accuses of having links to Israel claimed it carried out the attack that disrupted services at petrol stations across the country on Monday, Iranian state TV and Israeli local media reported.
Meanwhile, the US will push shippers to disclose more information about their Russian oil dealings to enforce sanctions, US officials said on Monday, while acknowledging that a big chunk of the trade has already escaped Western oversight after Russia built a parallel fleet.
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