Oil futures shot above $140 Thursday after OPECís president said crude prices could rise well above $150 a barrel this year and Libya said it may cut oil production.


Oil futures shot above $140 Thursday after OPECís president said crude prices could rise well above $150 a barrel this year and Libya said it may cut oil production. The advance raised the likelihood that gasoline prices also would extend their march higher, and that prices of goods and services throughout the economy also would keep rising.

Light, sweet crude crossed the $140 level minutes before the New York Mercantile Exchange closed Thursday, then retreated slightly to settle up $5.09 at a record $139.64. In after-hours electronic trading, prices rose as high as a record $140.39.

Oilís latest milestone came as Chakib Khelil, president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, said he believes oil prices could rise to between $150 and $170 a barrel this summer. Khelil also said prices will decline later in the year, and arenít likely to reach $200 a barrel.

Khelil joined a long list of forecasters who have made bold oil price predictions this year. Each new forecast ó such as Goldman Sachsí recent prediction prices could rise as high as $200 ó causes a jump in prices as speculative buyers are drawn into the market.