Oct 11 – Oil prices were little changed in early Asian trade on Wednesday, as concerns eased about potential supply disruptions due to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
Brent crude rose 12 cents at USD 87.77 a barrel by 0009 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 3 cents to USD 86.00 a barrel.
Brent and WTI surged more than USD 3.50 on Monday as the military clashes raised fears that the conflict could spread beyond Gaza, but settled lower in Tuesday’s session.
While Israel produces very little crude oil, markets worried that if the conflict escalates it could hurt Middle East supply and worsen an expected deficit for the rest of the year.
US officials have pointed fingers at Iran as being complicit in the Hamas attack on Israel, but credible evidence of the Islamic Republic’s role has yet to appear.
Political risk has kept crude prices from falling further.
Israel says it has razed sections of Gaza as it takes revenge for the Hamas assaults.
Powerful Iraqi and Yemeni armed groups aligned with Iran have threatened to target US interests with missiles and drones if Washington intervenes to support Israel.
In a more positive sign for supply, Venezuela and the U.S. have progressed in talks that could provide sanctions relief to Caracas by allowing at least one additional foreign oil firm to take Venezuelan crude oil under some conditions.
(Reporting by Laura Sanicola; Editing by Leslie Adler)