Oil May Rise as Iran Threatens to Block Strait, Survey Shows

Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Oil may rise next week after Iran’s threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, a critical waterway for shipping crude, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Thirteen of 32 analysts, or 41 percent, forecast oil will increase through Jan. 6. Ten respondents, or 31 percent, predicted prices will decrease and nine estimated there will be little change. Last week, 38 percent of surveyed analysts expected a decline.

Futures surged to $101.77 a barrel on Dec. 27, the highest intraday price since Dec. 7, after Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency cited Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi as saying the country would bar shipments through the strait if sanctions are imposed on its oil exports.

“We will stay on the sidelines until next week when we will be looking for a price advance back toward the $102 mark,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates, a Galena, Illinois-based consulting company, said in a report.

About 15.5 million barrels of oil a day, or a sixth of global consumption, pass through the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and Oman at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Iran’s navy started a 10-day exercise east of the passage that involved the use of submarines, ground-to-sea missile systems and torpedoes, Press TV said Dec. 24.

Crude oil for February delivery dropped 85 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $98.83 a barrel this week on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures are up 8.2 percent this year.

The oil survey has correctly predicted the direction of futures 48 percent of the time since its start in April 2004.

     Bloomberg’s survey of oil analysts and traders, conducted
each Thursday, asks for an assessment of whether crude oil
futures are likely to rise, fall or remain neutral in the coming
week. The results were:

                    RISE      NEUTRAL    FALL
                     13         9         10

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Shenk in New York at mshenk1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bill Banker at bbanker@bloomberg.net