Oil prices surge on reported tanker attacks


World oil prices surged Thursday on reports that two tankers had been attacked in the Gulf of Oman, worsening frayed tensions in the crude-rich Middle East region, analysts said.

The surge in oil prices boosted share prices of energy companies, while global stock markets won support also from the prospect of US interest rate cuts this year.

Rising hopes of a rate cut helped to offset lingering tensions over the long-running trade war between Washington and Beijing.

Thursday’s reported tanker attacks, the second incident involving shipping in the strategic sea lane in a matter of weeks, sent London’s Brent North Sea oil rebounding more than four per cent in morning deals before trimming gains.

The Gulf of Oman lies at the other end of the strategic Strait of Hormuz from the Gulf, part of a vital shipping lane through which at least 15 million barrels of crude oil and hundreds of millions of dollars of non-oil imports pass.

According to Iranian state media, one of the tankers — the Norwegian-owned Front Altair — was carrying ethanol from Qatar to Taiwan, while the Kokuka Courageous was carrying methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore.

Around midday in London, Brent for August delivery pulled back to stand at $62 per barrel, up to $2.03, or more than three per cent, from Wednesday.

New York’s West Texas Intermediate was $1.52 or around three per cent higher at $52.66 per barrel.

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