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Oil prices rise amid supply, Iran concerns

LONDON: Global oil prices rose Tuesday but were off three-month highs struck a day earlier on tight supply worries and tensions in the crude-rich Middle East.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in September rose 36 cents to $113.96 a barrel approaching midday in London. On Monday, it had hit $115.11 -- the highest level since early May -- before falling back on profit-taking.

In Tuesday trading, New York's main contract, light sweet crude for September, gained 32 cents to $93.05 a barrel.

"The increase in the price of Brent comes courtesy of special factors such as a 17-percent lower North Sea production in September and escalation of the tensions in the Near and Middle East," said Commerzbank analysts in a research note.

"In recent days, rhetoric between Iran and Israel has significantly intensified, fuelling fears of a military conflict," they added.

North Sea crude supply was set to be curtailed in September primarily by the shutdown of an oil field for scheduled maintenance.

Speculation was meanwhile mounting in the Israeli press about a possible strike on major oil producer Iran, with the newspaper Haaretz reporting top officials believe time is fast approaching for a decision by the government.

The United States on Monday insisted there was still time for a diplomatic way out of the West's nuclear showdown with Iran, which denies claims it is trying to build a nuclear bomb.

The White House said there remained a "window" for its strategy of pressure through punishing sanctions, adding that talks with Tehran could work despite the absence of a breakthrough so far.

 

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