The price of oil shot up nearly $1 a barrel yesterday as the war of words between Iraq and the United States escalated and worries grew that an OPEC accord on increasing oil production to make up output lost from Iraq and Kuwait is not coming soon.

The price of a benchmark barrel of crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose by 90 cents, to $27.36, its largest one-day increase since the price spike after Iraq invaded Kuwait two weeks ago.

Gasoline prices also seemed to be moving up. Amoco Corp. and Unocal Corp. both ended freezes on wholesale gasoline prices and Atlantic Richfield Co. had said it would review its own freeze each day.

The crude price increase came in spite of news that Saudi Arabia had called for a special OPEC meeting to discuss oil production increases, which some analysts had interpreted as meaning the Saudis had struck a behind-the-scenes deal to increase output.

But while the news cut into some of yesterday's price increase, analysts played down the importance of the Saudi request, and they said traders seemed more preoccupied with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's warning that a confrontation between his nation and the United States could result in "thousands of Americans wrapped in shrouded coffins."

Peter Beutel, an oil trader at Merrill Lynch & Co., said the news that Saudi Arabia had called for an OPEC meeting "knocked prices down a little bit, but then people's attention drifted back to the swords and the scabbards they come out of so frequently."

While most experts believe that Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and other OPEC nations eventually will boost their oil production to make up most of the crude oil lost when Kuwaiti production was shut down and Iraqi production was embargoed, they said OPEC's bickering appeared to be delaying an increase, and that troubled the oil market.

"There's a lot of confusion about what they are or are not doing about production," said Lawrence J. Goldstein, president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation, a New York consulting group partly funded by the oil industry.

However, John Redpath, an analyst for Energy Security Analysis Inc. in Washington, said, "Either they're going to get the OPEC consent to increase production or they're going to increase production without the OPEC consent. It would be much better for the organization if they managed the increase in production now. Even if they don't manage it, I think it's going to happen."

Beutel suggested that an eventual increase in production would take some -- but not all -- upward pressure off of crude prices. "If we can get that production all back ... there's a reason to think we can get this whole thing {the recent price increase} back," he said. "But you still have the violence angle looming over everything like Damocles' sword."