The European Union let it be known Thursday its compliance with a U.S. request for sanctions against Iran would not begin for six months. When the EU said Jan. 4 it would join in the effort to pressure Iran to abandon an alleged nuclear weapons program, oil prices shot higher, closing in on $103 per barrel.
Tension over the issue involved more than Iran's contribution to the world's oil supply, which is considerable. Iran also threatened, if sanctions were put into effect, to close the Strait of Hormuz between the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, a conduit through which one-fifth of the world's oil supply travels.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange Friday morning, West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery added 33 cents in late trading to $99.03 per barrel. Home heating oil prices gained 1.47 cents to $3.0419 per gallon. Reformulated blendstock gasoline prices added 1.46 cents to $2.7488 per gallon.
Henry Hub natural gas prices lost 1.6 cents to $2.654 per million British thermal units.
At the pump, the national average price of unleaded gasoline rose to $3.391 per barrel Friday from Thursday's $3.382, AAA said.