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THE NEW YORK TIMES: Oil Climbs 4 Percent on Saudi Attack

By REUTERS
LONDON (Reuters) – Oil jumped more than $2 on Friday after news of a suicide bomb attack at the huge Abqaiq oil facility in Saudi Arabia, which triggered worries about supply from the world's top crude producer.
At least two cars exploded at the gates of the Abqaiq site when security forces fired on suicide bombers trying to storm the facility in the country's eastern province.
“It's all about perception. Just the idea of an attack in Saudi Arabia is enough to make the market jumpy,'' said Glenn Murray, an oil broker at GM Oil.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi described the raid as a ''terrorist attempt'' but said oil exports had been unaffected. He said a limited fire at the site was being brought under control.
“This incident had no impact on oil and gas production in the kingdom,'' Naimi said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. “The plant continued production at full levels and export operations are as usual.''
Most Saudi oil is exported from the Gulf via Abqaiq which handles about two thirds of the country's output.
“This just emphasizes fears over global oil supply security when we're already facing major ongoing risks in Nigeria, Iran and Iraq,'' said Gary Ross, CEO at PIRA Energy consultancy in New York.
U.S crude prices hit a high of $63.00 a barrel, up $2.46. They later eased back to $62.88 at 1920 GMT.
London Brent was up $2.04 at $62.58 a barrel.
U.S. blue chip stocks edged lower after the surge in oil price which revived worries about high energy costs and inflation.
TUGGED BY TWO FORCES
Oil prices had risen a dollar earlier Friday as fears of deeper disruptions to Nigerian exports overshadowed the comfort drawn from brimming fuel stockpiles in the United States.
Attacks on Nigeria's oil network have already forced Shell to cut output by 455,000 barrels a day, shutting in a fifth of the country's exports. Militants holding foreign oil workers hostage say they will continue attacks in the next few days.
But oil's upside may be limited by brimming U.S. fuel tanks. Gasoline stocks rose to 225.6 million barrels, the highest level in seven years, according to weekly data. Crude stocks rose 1.1 million barrels to 326.7 million barrels.
“The market is being tugged by two forces — data are pulling it down and political forces are pulling it up,'' said independent oil consultant Geoff Pyne.
Aside from tension in Nigeria, traders said Iran's nuclear ambitions and the possible ramifications for the nation's oil production also remained a worry.
The board of the International Atomic Energy Agencymeets on March 6 to discuss the next step in resolving Iran's nuclear row with the West.
Iraq, which has been struggling to get oil output back to pre-war levels, is suffering the worst sectarian violence since the fall of Saddam Hussein, compounding the geopolitical risks in the Middle East.

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