Oil prices jumped by more than $5 a barrel in the final week of March, as the UN Security Council debated what action to take over Iran's nuclear non-compliance and US product stocks registered a strong draw. Spot Brent was trading at $66.14 a barrel on 29 March, compared with $60.68 a barrel a week earlier.
The UN's warning to Tehran about its nuclear programme grabbed the headlines during the week and kept the possibility - however distant - of possible sanctions or military confrontation at the front of traders' minds. But better news came from the other recent geopolitical flashpoint, as three oil workers being held hostage by militants in Nigeria were released and President Obasanjo agreed to talks with rebel leaders. US stock data for the week to 24 March showed gasoline supplies falling by an unexpectedly large 2.4 per cent to 216.2 million barrels, while distillate inventories were down by 2 per cent to 124.2 million barrels. Crude stocks rose by 0.6 per cent to 340.7 million barrels.