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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Oil Hits 11-Week High, $31

NEW YORK -- Oil prices hit 11-week highs above $31 a barrel Friday as OPEC producers Saudi Arabia and Venezuela sought assurances that nonmember Mexico would follow the cartel in any move to tighten supply.

Renewed signs that looting and sabotage will disrupt the resumption of Iraq's oil exports further bolstered prices, which have gained 20 percent in the last month.

U.S. crude futures jumped 54 cents to $31.28 a barrel, hitting its highest price since March 19. In London, benchmark Brent crude was 34 cents higher at $27.78 a barrel.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi and his Venezuelan counterpart, Rafael Ramirez, met in Madrid with Mexico's energy minister, Ernesto Martens, ahead of this week's OPEC conference on third-quarter production policy.

Saudi Arabia and Venezuela want to lay the groundwork for contributions from non-OPEC producers should the return of Iraq's oil push prices down later this year, officials at the talks said.

The ministers issued a statement after the talks saying that world oil markets were balanced and that the three countries would continue to coordinate on oil policy.

With oil prices near the top end of OPEC's band of $22 to $28 per barrel, some ministers have said they see no need for OPEC to cut production limits when it meets Wednesday in Qatar.

Iraq announced Thursday that this month it would resume oil exports, which have been halted since mid-March. But a full recovery of its prewar exports -- some 4 percent of globally traded oil -- appears distant.

Baghdad's top U.S. adviser on oil said Friday that well-organized saboteurs are targeting Iraqi oil facilities in a campaign designed to hamper efforts to revive crude exports as the country recovers from war.

"It is very difficult for me to identify who they are and what their motives are. I can only say their techniques appear to be very professional and aimed at causing harm to significant and important installations," Phillip Carroll said in an interview.