First Published: 2006-01-20

 
Bin Laden’s tape sends oil prices rocketing
 

Oil prices surge past 67 dollars on Al-Qaeda leader’s threat of new attacks against US.

 

Middle East Online

By Melanie Lee – SINGAPORE

Speculation by oil traders could push prices to 70 dollars a barrel

Oil prices surged past 67 dollars a barrel in Asian trading Friday after Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden threatened new attacks against the United States, dealers said.

Bin Laden's latest threat, made in an audiotape broadcast over Al Jazeera television, further fuelled market tensions triggered by potential supply disruptions in major oil producers Iran and Nigeria, they said.

At 3:15 pm (0715 GMT), New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, was up 27 cents at 67.10 dollars a barrel, the highest in four months, from its close of 66.83 dollars in the United States Thursday.

"The bin Laden tape has caused a knee-jerk reaction on the part of the market," said Victor Shum, a Singapore-based analyst with US energy consultancy Purvin and Gertz.

He said speculation by oil traders could push prices to 70 dollars a barrel, which would be just below the all-time high of 70.85 dollars on August 30, 2005 after Hurricane Katrina hammered US oil production facilities in the Gulf of Mexico region.

"There is certainly the possibility of prices hitting 70 dollars. The recent events have attracted speculators and oil has become a lot like an investment," Shum said.

The voice on the tape, which was authenticated by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to be that of the fugitive Al-Qaeda leader, also offered the American people a conditional "long term truce".

Washington flatly rejected the offer.

The tape marks the first time that bin Laden has been heard from in more than a year, his silence adding to feverish speculation about the fate of the man behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and a host of other terror strikes worldwide.

"The delay in similar attacks is not because of the failure to penetrate security measures taken ... These operations are being prepared and you will see them in your heartland when they are ready," the voice said, addressing the American people.

Meanwhile, the geo-political fallout from Iran's decision to resume sensitive nuclear activities and unrest in Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, remained key ingredients to the market's volatility.

"Geo-politics is behind the surge in oil pricing... The Nigerian unrest has caused a disruption in supply," said Shum.

Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell, Nigeria's biggest producer and so far the main target of the attacks by separatist militants, has been forced to cut output by 226,000 barrels per day since the crisis began over a week ago.

Iran, the second biggest crude oil producer in the OPEC cartel, has warned Western powers that sanctions over its controversial nuclear programme could provoke a world oil crisis.

The geo-political situation overshadowed the US Department of Energy's report on Wednesday that US energy stockpiles rose across the board in the week ended January 13, news that would normally depress oil prices.

Crude stocks rose 2.7 million barrels over the week to total 321.4 million barrels, it said.

Supplies of distillate products, used to make heating fuel and diesel, rose 900,000 barrels to 134.7 million. Reserves of gasoline, or petrol, were up 2.8 million barrels at 211.6 million.

 

Iraq forces press Mosul offensive

Tunisian public health sector struggles to heal itself

Morocco fugitive protest leader arrested

Mattis: Civilian deaths a 'fact of life' in war on IS

Syria girls escape war with Snow White

Israel interior minister questioned on graft suspicions

Tunisia security forces kill IS fugitive

Egypt’s left-wing parties start searching for Sisi competitor

Political scandal grips new Algerian government

Jordan gearing up for another Ramadan with refugees

Egypt’s left-wing parties start searching for Sisi competitor

US urged to keep track of its Iraq arms supply

Images emerge of Manchester bomber as runners defy threat

Qatar risks US sanctions over support for Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood

Libya jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution

Iran leader launches fierce attack on ‘milking cow’ Saudis

US-Turkish relations go from bad to worse

Egypt hits jihadists as IS claims deadly attack on Christians

Britain arrests two more in Manchester attack probe

Turkey charges opposition newspaper staff

Death toll in Tripoli clashes reaches 52

Hundreds of migrants rescued in major operation off Libya

Palestinians end mass hunger strike in Israel jails

Egypt Christians bury victims with tears, anger

Ramadan in Libya: little cash, much violence

UN braces for up to 200,000 Iraqis to flee Mosul

Iraq forces launch broad attack on IS holdouts in Mosul

Civilians flee IS-held Syria cities after deadly strikes

At least 28 dead in Tripoli clashes

UN says nations bombing IS must protect civilians

26 killed in attack on Egypt Christians

Turkey identifies 'intelligence weaknesses' before coup attempt

Tunisia opens trial over 2015 beach massacre

Syria army takes control of key road

US-led strikes kill 35 civilians in east Syria

Probe finds over 100 Mosul civilians killed in US air strike

Palestinian president says US should mediate hunger strike

Libya says working closely with Britain over concert attack

EU leaders, Erdogan meet in bid to ease tensions

Myanmar to deport Turkish family wanted for alleged coup links

Iran says it has built third underground missile factory

Trump gets rough ride in EU, NATO meeting

Saudi minister confident on oil output deal

Egyptians brace for austere Ramadan

Qatari FM says country victim of smear campaign, particularly in US