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Crude breaks $ 31 barrier

London, Sept. 24 (Reuters): A sharp rally in oil prices gathered pace on Tuesday as a storm threatening oil output and shipping in the Gulf of Mexico added to uncertainty over the impact of any US-led attack on Iraq.

Dealers ignored evidence of a doubling in Iraqi crude exports last week, focusing instead on reasons why petroleum prices, already 50 percent up so far this year, should spike further. “War-mongering and weather-related factors make this look like a runaway train. Stand in front of it at your peril,” said Lawrence Eagles of brokers GNI Research.

US benchmark crude oil futures jumped to their highest level since February 2001, leaping 68 cents to $ 31.39 a barrel. North Sea Brent oil climbed 40 cents to $ 29.53, its highest level since September 11 last year.

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