03/23/2012 10:54 EDT | Updated 05/23/2012 05:12 EDT

Report of falling Iranian exports briefly boosts oil near US$108 a barrel

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Oil prices briefly spiked near $108 a barrel Friday following a report that Iranian oil exports have dropped significantly this month.

Iran, the world's third-largest oil exporter, has been locked in a high-stakes standoff with the West over its nuclear program.

The U.S. and Europe, which say they fear Iran is building a nuclear weapon, are using financial sanctions to pressure Tehran to open its facilities to inspection.

The report said Iran's shipments have tumbled by 300,000 barrels a day, or 14 per cent, so far in March. That would be a strong sign that the sanctions are starting to impact the country's oil industry.

Benchmark crude was up $1.77 to $107.12 per barrel in New York. Earlier, prices jumped by $2.59 per barrel in 12 minutes to a daily high of $107.89.