accordind to reuters news agency the problems in iraq and the shootings at a chemical plant in saudi arabia last week have the pushed the price of oil
over $40 a barrel for the first time since 1990 they say people are worried that supplies could soon be disrupted
By Barbara Lewis
LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices hit $40 a barrel for the first time in 13 years on Friday on concerns over global supply security, fostering fears that
economic growth could suffer.
U.S. light crude hit a high of $40, the highest level since October 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait in the crisis that led to the Gulf War. London
Brent rose 52 cents to $37.05.
Last weekend's shootings at a Saudi Arabian chemicals plant and attempts a week earlier to bomb Iraq's Basra oil export terminal have fostered fears
of a bigger attack on oil facilities in the Middle East, which pumps about a third of the world's oil.
"People are watching events in the Middle East very closely. We could be getting toward the point when supplies will be disrupted and that's very
worrying," said Tony Machacek of Prudential Bache brokerage.
The United States is calling on the OPEC cartel to calm prices by increasing output. The Bush administration fears the fallout of higher energy costs
in an election year.
U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said on Thursday that high oil prices were "not helpful" for U.S. and global economic growth.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which controls around half world crude exports, will hold its next scheduled meeting on June 3
in Beirut. OPEC ministers will get the chance to discuss policy options at a forum that gathers producer and consumer nations in Amsterdam on May
Several cartel ministers have said they think there is enough crude oil in the market. Algeria's Oil Minister Chakib Khelil said high prices are
instead a result of China's red-hot oil demand and political instability in the Middle East.
"The reasons that are affecting the world oil market are really beyond OPEC's control," OPEC President Purnomo Yusgiantoro told CNBC television.
U.S. refineries are struggling to meet demand for new environmental grades of gasoline ahead of peak summer holiday driving demand.
U.S. gasoline consumption in the past four weeks rose by 3.4 percent against the same period last year to 9.1 million barrels a day, leaving stocks of
the motor fuel to well below the five-year seasonal average.
"The explosive cocktail created by OPEC actions, Saudi oil policy, U.S. managing logistical bottlenecks and U.S. foreign policy are set to keep oil
prices on fire this summer," Washington-based PFC Energy said in a research note.