Oil closes in on $100 a barrel level

Crude oil and gold prices surged to fresh highs on Wednesday amid renewed dollar weakness as investors sought refuge from a second wave of credit turmoil.

The closure of several North Sea oil production platforms because of bad weather was underpinning the market, traders said. ConocoPhillips and BP were expected to reduce production in the area ahead of a powerful storm.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil jumped to $98.62 a barrel, a record, extending its gain of almost $3 during Tuesday’s session. Oil prices have risen about 60 per cent so far this year.

Traders warned it might test the $100-a-barrel level as soon as Wednesday if US crude oil inventories show another weekly decline.

The cost of using options contracts to insure against crude oil trading at $100 in a year’s time surged to $4.15 per barrel, up almost 70 per cent since the end of October.

Financial Times
11/7/2007 6:19:43 AM