Oil prices jump past $66 a barrel on political concerns

Crude-&to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/20/91/368/14250_Chavez.html' target=_blank>oil prices charged to a three-and-a-half month high above $66 a barrel Tuesday amid growing unease about the possibility of sanctions against Iran, OPEC's second-largest producer, because of its nuclear ambitions.

Rising violence in oil-rich Nigeria contributed to the runup of more than $2 a barrel, as did a reported refinery snag and a forecast from an international energy watchdog calling for reduced non-OPEC crude output in 2006.

February crude futures leaped $2.39 to settle at $66.31 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest close since Sept. 29, when oil finished at $66.79.

Futures prices for fuels refined from oil, such as gasoline and heating oil, also soared.

In London, March Brent crude on the ICE Futures exchange rose $1.72 to setle at $64.90 a barrel.