By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Feb. 6 -- Oil prices rose Feb. 3 on the expectation, fulfilled a day later, that the International Atomic Energy Agency would refer the matter of Iran's nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council.
On Feb. 4 in Vienna, the IAEA board voted 27-3 to report Iran to the Security Council for possible action in March. Countries voting against the measure were Venezuela, Syria, and Cuba.
The US and several European countries, fearing that the Iran is trying to produce nuclear weapons, are seeking international support for possible UN sanctions against Iran. In a statement, President George W. Bush said the IAEA board action was not about denying the Iranian people the benefit of civilian nuclear power.
"The path chosen by Iran's new leaders—threats, concealment, and breaking international agreements and IAEA seals—will not succeed and will not be tolerated by the international community," Bush said. "The regime's continued defiance only further isolates Iran from the rest of the world and undermines the Iranian people's aspirations for a better life."
The March contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes rose by 69¢ to $65.37/bbl Feb. 3 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The April contract gained 73¢ to $65.22/bbl. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate at Cushing, Okla., was up by 69¢ to $65.38/bbl.
The March natural gas contract rose 26.6¢ to $8.613/MMbtu Feb. 3 on NYMEX. Gasoline for March delivery dropped 6.32¢ to $1.67/gal. Heating oil for the same month rose 1.08¢ to $1.78/gal.
In London, the March contract for North Sea Brent crude rose by 51¢ to $63.39/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange. The February contract for gas oil lost $5.50 to $538.25/tonne.
The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of 11 benchmark crudes fell by $1.03 to $58.46/bbl.