Oil prices increased to more than $70 a barrel on 1 October as traders juggled geopolitical concerns with a poor demand outlook in the US, the world’s largest consumer.
The US’ November West Texas Intermediate (WTI) contract was trading at $70.20 a barrel on 1 October, up $2.50 from a week before when it was valued at $67.70 a barrel.
The contract reached a high for the week when it closed at $70.60 a barrel on 30 September, but traded as low as $69.70 the next day.
Europe’s November Brent contract was trading at $68.75 a barrel on 1 October, up $0.55 over the last seven days. This was lower than the $69 a barrel recorded when trading closed on 30 September.
The US, Britain, and France said on 25 September that they planned to present a dossier of evidence on a secret uranium enrichment plant in Iran to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency. This raised fears over renewed tensions between the fourth largest oil producer in the world and West.
On 30 September, the US’ Energy Information Administration released data showing that stocks of gasoline had fallen by 1.6 million barrels to 211.5 million barrels during the week ended 24 September.
“Because no-one really knows what will happen in Iran and because the demand outlook isn’t that clear cut, traders are basically buying up to a level and then selling and cutting their losses,” says one London-based oil analyst. “We’ll probably see a lot of movement for the next few weeks until there is a clearer picture on both issues.”