NEW YORK (AFP) — Oil prices surged to near all-time highs Monday after OPEC oil exporters rejected Western calls to increase output and ease supply pressures.
New York's main oil contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, jumped 2.86 dollars to close at 109.09 dollars per barrel after an intraday high of 109.48 dollars.
Brent North Sea crude for May gained 2.24 dollars to settle at 107.14 dollars a barrel after an intraday level of 107.50.
New York crude hit a record intraday high of 111.80 dollars on March 17 on the back of the weak dollar and choppy world financial markets.
"Oil futures were higher again, buoyed by OPEC's reluctance to increase oil supplies," said Sucden analyst Nimit Khamar.
Over the weekend, the secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Abdullah al-Badri, rejected calls for an increase in the cartel's crude output, saying that non-fundamental factors were to blame for current high prices.
"At the moment there is enough oil in the market and no need to change OPEC's output," Badri said in Tehran late Saturday.
Oil rose despite a slight recovery in the dollar, whose weakness had been a key factor in rising prices.
Eric Wittenauer at Wachovia Securities said energy prices had fresh momentum, which has brought speculative cash back into the market.
"We generally believe that after failing to break down after four tests of 100-dollar per barrel support, prices have new momentum," he said.
US President George W. Bush has called on OPEC and its kingpin Saudi Arabia to hike output in response to the continued strength in prices.
However the cartel, which produces 40 percent of global oil supplies, defiantly maintained its output at 29.67 million barrels per day at its last meeting in March.
"No one can put OPEC under pressure because we decide based on our interests," Badri said.
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