Oil Prices Up Over Potential Regional Escalation In Middle East

Oil prices increased on Monday over the likelihood of an escalation in the Middle East with protracted US airstrikes on Iran-backed groups.

The international benchmark crude Brent traded at $77.59 per barrel at 10.09 a.m. local time (0709 GMT), a 0.34% increase from the closing price of $77.33 a barrel in the previous trading session on Friday.

The American benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), traded at the same time at $72.42 per barrel, up 0.19% from Friday's close of $72.28 per barrel.

Investors remain wary of an escalation in the Middle East conflict.

A US military base in Syria's Deir ez-Zor province came under drone attack from Iranian-backed groups, local sources said Monday.

These Iranian-backed groups stationed on the western bank of the Euphrates River used multiple kamikaze drones in their attacks on the Al-Omar oilfield, where US forces are stationed.

The US began airstrikes on Friday against the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria after a suicide drone attack killed three American troops in Jordan last month.

The US also said Sunday that it conducted "self-defense strikes" against missiles in areas of Yemen controlled by the Houthi group.

"On Feb. 4 at approximately 5: 30 a.m. (Sanaa time), U.S. Central Command forces conducted a strike in self-defense against a Houthi land attack cruise missile," US Central Command (CENTCOM) wrote on X.

It added that US forces struck four anti-ship cruise missiles, all of which were prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea.

The Houthis have been targeting cargo ships in the Red Sea owned or operated by Israeli companies or transporting goods to and from Israel in solidarity with Gaza, which has been under an Israeli onslaught since Oct. 7.

The Red Sea is one of the world's most frequently used sea routes for oil and fuel shipments.

Fears that the regional conflict would spill over to other countries in the Middle East and further disrupt supply routes supported price increases.

Meanwhile, the strengthening US dollar has played its part in restraining crude oil gains by increasing the cost of crude for foreign currency holders.

Source: Anadolu

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