Friday, July 20, 2007

Oil Prices Up After Violence In Nigeria

Oil prices up after violence in Nigeria

VIENNA, Austria - Oil prices rose Friday after news of new violence in southern Nigeria, where police said a Lebanese businessman was shot dead in his home in an apparent kidnapping attempt.

Kidnappings and oil rig attacks have become common in the southern river delta region of Africa's largest crude producer, where oil giants like Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Eni SpA have large operations. The assailants range from militants demanding political concessions to criminal gangs seeking ransoms.

Arrests are rare, even though the kidnappings and bombings have cut production in Nigeria by about a quarter, helping to drive up oil prices worldwide.

Light, sweet crude for August delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 19 cents to $76.11 a barrel by afternoon in Europe.

The contract had risen 87 cents, or 1.2 percent, to close at $75.92 a barrel Thursday, after hitting an 11-month high of $76 right before the end of the trading day. A front-month contract last settled over $76 a barrel on Aug. 9.

The Nymex September crude contract, which becomes the front-month contract at the end of Friday trading in New York, was up 20 cents at $76.27.

In London, Brent crude for September delivery was up 8 cents to $77.75 on the ICE Futures exchange.

Crude oil prices rose Thursday after Total SA declared force majeure — a contractual clause absolving a supplier for delivery delays beyond its control — at its 240,000 barrel-a-day Dalia field facility in Angola. Production at the facility fell to 127,000 barrels due to an electrical problem. Total said Friday it had lifted force majeure on oil exports from the Dalia installation.

Vienna's PVM Oil Associates also listed "reduced OPEC exports by 240,000 barrels a day in the four weeks to Aug. 4 ... a fire at Saudi Arabia's Ras Tanure oil terminal (and) reports of China's economic growth reaching 11.9 percent in the second quarter" as pushing prices upward.

Prices also were reacting to a U.S. inventory report earlier this week that showed declines in both oil and products stocks.

The report Wednesday also showed U.S. gasoline demand over the previous four weeks has surged to record levels, keeping the fuel as one of the leading movers of global oil prices.

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