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Oil prices mixed amid Iran, weather concerns

by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Aug 4, 2008
World oil prices were mixed on Monday amid fresh worries about Iran's disputed nuclear programme and a new storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, traders said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for September delivery, fell 16 cents to 124.94 dollars a barrel in electronic trading, reversing earlier gains.

Brent North Sea crude for September delivery rose 10 cents to 124.28 dollars.

"Prices were a little higher (earlier on Monday) amid uneasiness over the conflict between Iran and the West and due to fears that Tropical Storm Edouard may threaten oil facilities in the Gulf of Mexico," Sucden anlayst Nimit Khamar said.

Crude futures had jumped Friday on resurgent concerns about the Iranian nuclear energy row, as Israel's deputy Prime Minister, Shaul Mofaz, said Tehran was playing for time.

Iran is the world's fourth-biggest crude oil producer and traders fear supply disruptions from the Islamic republic if tensions with the West heighten over its controversial nuclear programme.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Monday spoke by phone on the standoff over Tehran's nuclear programme, officials from both sides said.

A Solana spokesman told AFP in Brussels: "The conversation took place and Solana will report on it to the representatives of the group of six" powers involved in the talks -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

The spokesman for Solana, who is negotiating on behalf of the six world powers, gave no details on the conversation or how long the two men talked.

The United States had demanded that Iran meet a deadline of last weekend to respond to an international package of incentives aimed at persuading Tehran to freeze uranium enrichment amid warnings of new sanctions.

According to Western governments, Iran's atomic programme is a cover for making nuclear weapons, a charge vehemently denied by Tehran which says it needs nuclear power to produce electricity for a growing population.

Tensions over Iran's nuclear program helped push oil prices to record levels above 147 dollars per barrel last month.

Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, Tropical Storm Edouard was expected to be very near the southwestern coast of Louisiana and the upper Texas coast by late Tuesday.

The news added to jitters about tight global oil supplies because many key US energy facilities are located in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil Corp yesterday (Sunday) said production has not been affected yet, but they were preparing for a possible temporary shutdown of output and evacuation of employees if required," Khamar added.

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Oil prices jump on renewed Iran jitters
New York (AFP) Aug 1, 2008
Oil prices jumped higher Friday on renewed jitters over Iran's disputed nuclear program, as Israel's deputy Prime Minister, Shaul Mofaz, said Tehran was playing for time.

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