LONDON (Reuters) – Oil rose to $116 a barrel on Thursday, climbing for a third straight session, as Washington’s missile shield deal with Poland angered Russia, adding to international tension.
The spat adds to political factors that has supported oil prices in recent months, such as the dispute over Iran’s nuclear work. A weaker dollar also boosted the appeal of commodities as an inflation hedge.
“There’s a myriad of geopolitical factors rumbling in the background — Russia, Iran,” said Tony Machacek, broker at Bache Commodities Ltd. “Also, the dollar is weaker.”
U.S. crude gained 66 cents to $116.22 a barrel by 0851 GMT, having risen as high as $117.00 earlier in the session. Brent crude climbed 50 cents to $114.86.
The United States and Poland signed a deal on Wednesday to station parts of a U.S. missile defense shield on Polish soil, drawing a sharp response from Russia, the world’s second-largest oil exporter.
The pact comes as relations between Russia and the West have been strained by Moscow’s military intervention in Georgia. The conflict there has disrupted the transit of Azeri oil through Georgia.
International tension outweighed a U.S. government report that on Wednesday showed crude inventories rose by 9.4 million barrels, the largest weekly increase since March 2001.
Oil has fallen from a record high of $147.27 a barrel reached last month on evidence that demand is slowing. Prices remain up about 15 percent so far this year and have climbed from below $20 in early 2002.
Also supporting the market were expectations that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Saudi Arabia, its top producer, may decide to trim supply in a bid to stem a further price fall.
Saudi Arabia boosted oil output in July to 9.7 million barrels a day from 9.45 million bpd in June, far above the country’s informal OPEC target. OPEC meets on September 9 to review output policy.
“As prices drop, Saudi Arabia may cut back on its recent increase in production, which could halt the most recent price decline,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly review of the market.