are near two-year highs despite OPEC's promised increase in production,
analysts say, because of the threat of war with Iraq and political
uncertainty in Venezuela.
hit $34 a barrel in New York. Analysts say prices are likely to
rise to $35 per barrel or higher in the next month if the crises
in Venezuela and the Persian Gulf continue.
In the event
of U.S. military action against Iraq, prices could jump above the
$40 record set during the 1991 Gulf War. If that happens, President
Bush is likely to open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help tame
oil tanker pilots have ended a seven-week-old strike in western
Lake Maracaibo, a key oil export area, Venezuelan shipping agents
said Tuesday in a report by Reuters. The strike was aimed
at forcing President Hugo Chavez to resign.
While an end
to the tanker pilots' action in Venezuela can be expected to boost
exports, shippers said deliveries were not likely to rise rapidly
until foreign ship operators began using ports again.
In total, there
are about 24 channel pilots and 20 docking pilots in Maracaibo.
Only five or six pilots were available until now. Agents said the
end of the pilots' strike meant that up to five tankers could leave
the channel on one tide, vs. two tankers now.