Oil prices rise after Saudi king’s death

Crude oil prices rose as much as 3.1 percent Friday morning following the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah.

The international crude oil benchmark, Brent, rose as much as 2.6 percent over the previous day in trading early Friday in London, peaking at $49.80 before falling to $49.38, Bloomberg News reported.

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The West Texas Intermediate crude benchmark grew increased as much as 3.1 percent.

Prices are still near the lowest they have been since 2008.

Saudi Arabia produces about 9.5 million barrels a day of oil and exports 7 million barrels of it, accounting for about 10 percent of global production and 20 percent of exports, Bloomberg said.

But the increases are likely to be only temporary, Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency, told Bloomberg.

Salman, the new king of Saudi Arabia and Abdullah’s younger brother, declared Thursday after Abdullah’s death that he would keep all of his predecessor’s ministers, including Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi.

Even before Abdullah’s death, Salman, then crown prince, said earlier in January that the country’s oil policies would not change.

Al-Naimi was instrumental in November in convincing the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to maintain its production levels in the face of the lowest oil prices in five years, caused in part by oversupply and shale production in the United States.

Some of the cabal’s leaders had asked that production be cut in an effort to raise prices.

Saudi Arabia’s main concern in cutting prices is giving up market share to the United States, al-Naimi said.