Oil Prices Up Slightly in Europe

By | April 17, 2007

Oil Prices Up Slightly in Europe
Tuesday April 17, 7:19 am ET
By George Jahn, Associated Press Writer
Oil Prices Up Slightly Ahead of Midweek Supply Report; Eyes on Potential Violence in Nigeria

VIENNA, Austria (AP) — Oil prices rose Tuesday as traders weighed the restart of a key U.S. oil refinery against expectations that U.S. gasoline inventories would keep falling.

The market was also poised to react to potential elections-related violence in Nigeria.

Light, sweet crude for May delivery was up 42 cents at $64.03 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midday in Europe. Slow trading is not unusual ahead of a contract’s expiration. The May futures contract expires Friday.

Brent crude for June rose 45 cents to $67.70 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange.

Traders were looking ahead to Wednesday’s weekly U.S. petroleum inventory report, which is expected to show rising crude stocks and falling gasoline and distillate supplies, according to a survey of analysts by Dow Jones Newswires.

Though part of the hobbled McKee refinery in Texas was restarted — a development that is expected to shore up U.S. gasoline supply and ease a crude glut — domestic production alone may not be enough to build stocks in time for peak summer demand.

“The wild card will be the imports,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Alaron Trading Corp. in Chicago. “This week’s (Department of Energy) inventory report is going to be a big one.”

Trading was volatile Monday on news of election-related violence in oil-producing Nigeria, but Nymex oil prices ended the day down only 2 cents.

Traders are watching the potential for more violence that could disrupt oil supplies in Nigeria, the world’s eighth-largest exporter and a main supplier to the United States. Nigerians vote Saturday in presidential elections, a week after at least 21 were killed in violence surrounding state elections.

At the same time, other developments in the African nation had the potential to depress prices. Vienna’s PVM Oil Associates noted “production at some of the shut-down oil fields in Nigeria could restart.” The Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. has said the Forcados field — which accounts for 380,000 barrels a day — is likely to resume operations this month.

Forecasts for warmer U.S. weather could also depress prices of oil, natural gas and heating oil.

Heating oil futures rose more than a cent to $1.8730 a gallon, while natural gas prices slipped 4 cents to $7.490 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Source: Yahoo! Finance

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