The price of premium crude oil has surged over $50 a barrel for the first time this year in Asian trading, giving a boost to the economies of oil producers from Russia and Kazakhstan to Iran and Iraq.
The steep climb of Brent North Sea oil prices from as low as $27 at the beginning of the year came despite Iran's ramping up of its oil output to presanction levels near 4 million barrels a day, and the failure of OPEC, Russia, and other major producers to agree on a production freeze this year.
Analysts attribute the unexpected recovery in prices to a strengthening of the U.S. dollar caused by a rise in interest rates engineered by the Federal Reserve, as well as temporary supply cuts caused by wildfires in Canada and unrest in Nigeria, two top producers. Oil prices are denominated in dollars worldwide.
Temporary or not, the bullish developments sent Brent futures up 27 cents to $50.01 a barrel in midday Singapore trading on May 26, while the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate traded 21 cents higher at $49.77.