Brent crude above $100 as Norway lockout looms

Mon Jul 9, 2012 5:27pm EDT
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By Robert Gibbons

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices jumped 2 percent on Monday, with Brent futures rising back above $100 a barrel as a strike by workers and a planned lockout by companies threatened to completely shut Norway's crude oil production.

Prices were off session highs in post-settlement trading on news that Iran's foreign minister downplayed in an interview recent threats to shut the Strait of Hormuz and said that Iran is ready to negotiate on uranium enrichment.

Negotiations on Sunday between oil workers and employers over pay and pensions could not resolve the dispute, raising the specter of the first complete shutdown of Norway's oil industry in more than 25 years.

The strike, in its third week, has cut oil output from western Europe's top producer by 13 percent. The government could force an end to the strike but a labor ministry spokesman said on Sunday there were no immediate plans to intervene.

Statoil (STL.OL: Quote), Norway's biggest offshore operator, said on Monday the company was preparing to start shutting down production after a midnight deadline (6.00 p.m. EDT).

"Crude futures have climbed to new session highs on worries of a potential shutdown of Norwegian production," said Addison Armstrong, senior director, market research at Tradition Energy.

Brent August crude jumped $2.13 to settle at $100.32 a barrel, having reached $101.06.

U.S. August crude rose $1.54 to settle at $85.99 a barrel, after trading from $84 to $86.48   Continued...

An employee holds a gas pump at a gas station of Hyundai Oilbank in Seoul June 15, 2012. REUTERS/Choi Dae-woong