Oil prices on the rise amid Hormuz fears

Oil prices rose to their highest level in four weeks today over Iran's continuing threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which more than 60 per cent of the world's oil flows.

Asian prices edged above $99 a barrel amid concerns that tensions in the Middle East could hurt crude supply; although the rise was tempered by worries over Europe's ratings downgrade by Standard & Poor.

Benchmark crude for February delivery was up 48 cents to $99.16 a barrel at late afternoon Kuala Lumpur time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Iran today warned Gulf nations against boosting their oil production, saying they would be responsible for the consequences of any such move.

It also said that a disruption to crude supplies through the Strait of Hormuz would cause a shock to markets that ''no country'' could manage.

Mohammad Ali Khatibi, Iran's representative to the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel, said that "our Arab neighbour countries should not co-operate" with the US and European countries.