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Oil prices gain for third week in a row

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Oil prices climbed on Friday, ensuring a third straight weekly gain for the commodity as Opec officials said discussions by producers to limit output could be revived.

[NEW YORK] Oil prices climbed on Friday, ensuring a third straight weekly gain for the commodity as Opec officials said discussions by producers to limit output could be revived.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for June gained 55 cents to US$43.73 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In London, Brent North Sea oil for delivery in June rose 58 cents to US$45.11 a barrel.

Friday's gains lifted the US advance for the week to 8.3 per cent, while Brent crude rose 4.7 per cent.

Abdalla El-Badri, secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, said the cartel could revive talks between members on a production freeze and hold further talks with non-members.

The oil market also got support from the Baker Hughes weekly US rig count, which showed that oil producers curtailed use of eight drilling rigs in the week ending April 22.

"Market sentiment is certainly positive and the flow of buying has clearly not been exhausted," said Citi Futures analyst Tim Evans. "At the same time, we also note a few voices beginning to question whether the higher levels will prove sustainable."

Some analysts said there was no reason to expect Opec to reach a deal in its June meeting after Sunday's talks failed, in part because Iran refused to accept a cap while it rebuilds its output after sanctions were lifted in January.

BMI Research warned in a note that the long-running enmity between Iran and Saudi Arabia - who are fighting proxy wars in the Middle East - could prevent any deal being made.

"We believe that Saudi Arabia and Iran's disagreement over oil is a symptom of wider geopolitical tensions between the two, and therefore do not expect a political opec agreement to be reached during the June 2 meeting," it said.

AFP