Crude Oil Prices Settle Higher as Middle East Tensions Disrupt Supply

© Reuters. – Crude oil prices settled higher on Friday as political tensions in the Kurdistan region continued to disrupt crude supplies offsetting signs of wavering U.S. demand. On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for November delivery rose 18 cents to settle at $51.47 a barrel, while on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent added 33 cents to trade at $57.56 a barrel. In what was a volatile session, crude oil prices struggled for direction as investors weighed the impact of falling domestic demand against supply disruptions in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Oil exports from Iraq’s Kurdistan towards the Turkish port of Ceyhan were flowing at average rates on Friday of 216,000 barrels per day versus the usual flows of 600,000 bpd, according to a report from Reuters citing a shipping source. The supply disruption in Iraq comes amid ongoing political uncertainty in the region following conflict between Iraqi and Kurdish forces. Iraqi troops marched toward Northern Iraq earlier this week and regained control of two major oilfields from Kurdish forces. In the U.S., meanwhile, investors mulled over data showing oil drilling activity declines continued to decline as the number of oil rigs slumped for the third-straight week. U.S., oilfield services firm Baker Hughes said Friday its weekly count of oil rigs operating in the United States fell by 7 to 736. The weekly rig count is an important barometer for the drilling industry and serves as a proxy for oil production and oil services demand.

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