Oil mixed in Asia as Iran-Iraq border dispute eases

SINGAPORE, Dec 21, 2009 (AFP) - Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade Monday as worries over border tensions between Iran and Iraq eased, and the Christmas holidays kept traders on the sidelines, analysts said.

New York's main futures contract, light sweet crude for January delivery, shed two cents to 73.34 dollars per barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for February delivery rose 36 cents to 74.11 dollars.

"The markets are taking the news (of the Iran-Iraq border dispute) pretty well. A lot of the trading is going sideways," said Clarence Chu, an oil trader at Hudson Capital Energy in Singapore.

"Initially there was some nervousness, but now they are not too concerned... We're getting ready for the holidays and so people are not taking a lot of risks."

On Friday, Iraq said about a dozen Iranian troops and technicians took control of an oil field inside its territory and raised the Iranian flag there.

Iraq's government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Sunday the Iranian troops had left the facility after three days although they remain on Iraqi soil. They also took down their flag, he added.

The facility, known as Well 4, lies in disputed territory about 100 metres from the Iranian border, according to Iraqi officials. Iran says the oil well falls within its borders.

Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani said the situation had been blown "out of proportion" and that "the problem has now been contained."

It was the first serious incident between the two neighbours since the US-led invasion of 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein, whose forces fought a 1980-1988 war against Iran.

Source: AFP

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