Oil prices surge after attacks on oil tankers in Gulf of Oman

NEW YORK – Oil prices surged on Thursday after two oil tankers were hit in the Sea of Oman near Iran.

Two oil tankers were hit in the Sea of Oman on Thursday morning, with at least one of them operated by a Japanese company. The attacks came amid Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Tehran, who is seeking to help ease tensions between Iran and the United States.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters during a brief press conference at the State Department on Thursday afternoon that Iran is responsible for the attacks without providing hard evidence.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said earlier in the day that the attacks on two oil tankers were “suspicious,” noting that they occurred while Abe was meeting with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “for extensive and friendly talks.”

“While I very much appreciate P.M. Abe going to Iran to meet with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, I personally feel that it is too soon to even think about making a deal. They are not ready, and neither are we!” Trump tweeted on Thursday afternoon.

Analysts said concerns over output disruptions supported crude prices.

Oil prices dipped to five-month lows earlier in the day after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) revised down its forecast for global oil demand growth.

The West Texas Intermediate for July delivery increased $1.14 to settle at $52.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for August delivery gained $1.34 to close at $61.31 a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

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