Oil prices soar after Iran’s top military general killed in airstrike

Oil prices have skyrocketed in Friday morning trading across international markets after the US confirmed it had conducted an airstrike in Baghdad that resulted in the death of Iran’s top military General Qasem Soleimani.

International benchmark Brent crude was up more than 3.6% at US$68.65 per barrel following news of the sharp escalation of conflict in the Middle East, while US West Texas Intermediate made gains of 3.5% to reach $63.38 per barrel.

General Soleimani, leader of the special forces unit of the Islamic Republic’s elite Revolutionary Guards, was killed in the airstrike at Baghdad International Airport early on Friday, along with top Iraqi military figurehead Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Analysts at political risk consultancy Eurasia Group made clear that Iran will respond to the US-sanctioned airstrike, before adding that the rising conflict will likely push oil prices to around $70 a barrel.

“But [oil prices] could make a run at $80 if the conflict spreads to the oil fields of Southern Iraq or if Iranian harassment of commercial shipping intensifies,” said the consultancy.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Twitter that the killing of Soleimani – widely regarded as the second most power figure in the country – was “extremely dangerous and a foolish escalation.”