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VIENNA -- Crude oil futures prices briefly hit an all-time high on Tuesday as worries persisted over supply and unrest in key producers, reported the Associated Press.
Crude oil for November delivery shot up as high as $50.73 per barrel in electronic trading in advance of the opening of the New York Mercantile Exchange, surpassing a previous high of $50.47 a barrel set Sept. 28. Prices later pulled back, but remained above the $50 mark.
Also on Tuesday, OPEC president Purnomo Yusgiantoro called for more transparent and reliable data to track prices and counter rising speculation in the market. "The current market shows a need for reliable oil statistics," Purnomo said in Bali, Indonesia. He had earlier said OPEC could not do anything to cool prices even after pledging to increase output.
The market remains edgy over Nigeria, where on-again, off-again talks between rebels and the government plague production in the Niger Delta -- which churns out more than 2 million barrels per day and is America's fifth-largest source of crude.
Also of concern is daily output in the Gulf of Mexico, which stands at around 28 percent below normal at roughly 1.2 million barrels, according to the federal Minerals Management Service. More than 13 million barrels of oil production have been lost since Sept. 13, when Hurricane Ivan swept through the United States and the Caribbean, killing 115 and forcing oil companies to shut down.
A number of platforms were damaged and undersea inspections are being held up, further adding to the delays there.
Other factors weighing into the spike include:
* Fear over Russian supply after oil giant Yukos warned that output might suffer due to a multibillion-dollar back-tax bill.
* Frequent attacks by insurgents in Iraq on pipelines.
* A recent presidential referendum in Venezuela, the world's fifth-largest producer.
"Everyday, it is either Nigeria, Iraq or Russia, or the weather, so there is something ... where there is a confluence of events, then prices should go even beyond $50," said Victor Shum, an oil analyst at Texas-based energy consultants Pervin & Gertz in Singapore.