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Nation & World

Oil prices creep higher

OPEC wrestles with U.S. call to boost production

Bloomberg

Brent crude oil hit a four-year high this week at $80 per barrel. A pumpjack is seen in Midland, Texas.
Bloomberg Brent crude oil hit a four-year high this week at $80 per barrel. A pumpjack is seen in Midland, Texas.

Global oil prices rose Thursday morning as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries concluded a meeting in Algiers, where the group wrestled with pressure from President Donald Trump to pump more.

Benchmark Brent crude was up slightly at $81 a barrel on London’s markets, while West Texas Intermediate was trading up at more than $72 per barrel.

Brent crude hit a four-year high this week at $80 per barrel.

American drivers in recent months have felt the effect at the gas pump, where prices have rise to a national average of around $2.85 per gallon.

OPEC has come under attack from President Trump all year, and most recently this month, for limiting production which helped drive up oil prices.

JPMorgan in a report last weekend cited geopolitical risks, including the trade war with China, North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations and the chance of “a major miscalculation from sanctions” against Iran, that could push the price of oil toward $90 a barrel.

“Sanctions seem to be biting earlier and more forcefully than originally anticipated,” said Frank Verrastro, an oil expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Thursday’s increase comes as a Reuters report said that Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s de facto leader, temporarily will pump 500,000 barrels per day more to ease tight supplies in the wake of American sanctions against Iran, which is a major supplier.

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Despite that, Bob Tippee, editor of Oil & Gas Journal, said the president’s jawboning of OPEC leaders may not help much.

“I don’t think the important OPEC producers — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, (United Arab) Emirates — want to get in open conflict with Trump,” Tippee said. “They are going to do what’s in their economic interest. And that’s what they are doing.”

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