World oil prices hit record US$76 yesterday amid concerns over situations in the Middle East.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, rose by US$1.75 to close at US$76.70 a barrel, after hitting intraday US$76.85.
In London, Brent North Sea crude for August delivery surged by US$2.30 to close at US$76.69 a barrel, after striking US$76.95 in intraday trade.
Israel imposed an air and sea blockade on Lebanon on Thursday following the cross-border raid by Hezbollah guerrillas who captured two Israeli soldiers.
Traders are still concerned about the possibilities that Iran's oil exports would halt if the UN imposes an international sanction on Teheran for its nuclear activities. Iran is OPEC's No.2 producer behind Saudi Arabia, producing 4 million bpd of oil and exporting 2.4 million bpd.
Meanwhile, about one-fourth of Nigeria's daily output is still shut after a series of militant attacks. Nigeria is Africa's leading oil producer and the fifth biggest source of US oil imports.
The US Energy Department reported Wednesday that crude oil reserves fell by 6 million barrels to 335.3 million, compared with a forecast drop of just 1.3 million barrels.
(Xinhua News Agency July 14, 2006)