The crude traders seem to have been largely puzzled by the Iranian nuclear talks. The upshot is that prices have slipped slightly, down 20 cents to $72.90 a barrel, on yesterday’s ambiguous news. Yesterday’s reports of Iran’s attacks on a Romanian oil rig caused a quick little bump, but by this morning it appeared that whatever had happened there, Iran had given back the oil rig. From “The markets will be watching for any further developments on Iran today after Iran said yesterday that it was ready for “serious negotiations” on its nuclear program but made no mention of the UN’s demand for Iran to halt its nuclear enrichment activities by August 31. Iran today gave back the oil rig it seized yesterday from its Romanian owners. Iran claimed it was trying to prevent the company from moving the rig out of the area in a contract dispute, but Iran may have had the ulterior motive of warning the West about its ability to control oil assets in the Persian Gulf.”

You know, just another day in the Middle East — defy the UN, put on a display of military bravado in the South, attack a Romanian oil rig . . . come home, take off your boots, eat stew and potatoes . . .

Beyond the realm of current events, however, there is this chilling concern:

Crude oil could reach $300 per barrel if BP’s pipeline corrosion problems in Alaska are found elsewhere, according to an industry analyst quoted in the Independent. Matthew Simmonds warns that the unexpectedly severe corrosion could be the tip of the iceberg. He said that during 25 years of lower oil prices, the industry failed to have a proper maintenance system, with rigs, pipelines and refineries that “rusted away”.

Via AME Info.