Oil prices top 147 dollars per barrel

NEW YORK, July 11, 2008 (AFP) – Oil prices rocketed to records above 147 dollars on Friday as traders seized on the weak US currency, simmering tensions over crude producers Iran and Nigeria and news of a looming strike in Brazil. New York’s main oil contract, light sweet crude for August, hit a historic peak of 147.27 dollars a barrel before closing at 145.08 dollars a gain for the day of 3.43 dollars.

London’s Brent North Sea oil for August delivery jumped as high as 147.50 dollars to beat the previous record of 146.69 dollars set on July 3. The contract settled up 2.46 dollars at 144.49 dollars.

With markets already in a frenzy over tensions with Iran and problems in Nigeria, news of a strike in Brazil added to speculative fervor,
Workers for Brazil’s state-run oil giant Petrobras are to start a five-day strike on Monday.

The main union covering Petrobras workers in the key Campos off-shore area in southeastern Brazil confirmed to AFP Friday that the near-total stoppage would occur.

“There will be minimal production if Petrobras accepts that the production is controlled by the workers but if the company tries to use its own teams, we will disconnect the equipment,” union spokesman Marcos Brida said.