Saudi Arabia said to be targetting $80 oil
The price of crude oil surged to the highest its been since the end of 2014 on Thursday, with Brent pushing past $74 (£52) a barrel.
Analysts pointed to a fall in US oil supplies, revealed in data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), as a major factor in the increase. The EIA confirmed on Wednesday that crude oil stocks fell by 1.1 million barrels last week.
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The price was also propped up by political tensions in the Middle East, with commodities in general rallying after US sanctions were imposed on Russian companies.
Meanwhile, the surge comes hours ahead of an OPEC meeting on Friday, where the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is expected to agree to extend their supply cut agreement.
Commentators believe Saudi Arabia is aiming to push oil higher, with plans to take it to $80 or even $100 a barrel, strengthening the case for expecting the supply deal to stay in place on similar terms.
“The Saudis and their colleagues in OPEC need higher oil for their fiscal positions and the Kingdom is on a bold and costly reform program. So they might continue to squeeze the lemon while they have the chance,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.
Additional reporting by news wires