Crude oil prices top $70 per barrel as Middle East tensions escalate

Crude oil futures topped $70 per barrel in early trading Monday amid rising tensions in Iraq and Iran following the killing of a top Iranian military commander in Baghdad.

Brent crude oil futures topped $70 per barrel Monday in the wake of escalating Mideast tensions. File Photo by ekina/Shutterstock

Benchmark Brent crude futures reached $70.72 early in Monday’s session, up 1.28 percent, before falling back below the $70 mark to $69.49.

West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery was up 1.21 percent to $69.26 per barrel, a 58-cent increase since Friday and its highest level since April.

The crude oil price spikes came after a 3 percent surge on Friday in the wake of the slaying of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolution Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, in a drone strike ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump. The incident has inflamed tensions in the Middle East, heightening concerns about the possible impact on oil supplies.

Traders were weighing comments made by Trump Sunday night in which he said the United States would impose sanctions on Iraq should it seek to expel foreign troops from the country.

Iraq’s parliament voted unanimously in a non-binding resolution to do so Sunday, prompting Trump to threaten sanctions.

“If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis. We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever,” he said. “It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”

Iraq is the second-largest producer among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

ByDon Jacobson