LONDON, (AP) -Oil prices rose Thursday after reports of more attacks on oil workers in Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, raised worries about supplies.
Gunmen kidnapped at least 19 people in less than 24 hours in three attacks — seizing people from a vessel managed by a subsidiary of Italian oil firm Eni SpA, from a South Korean company’s power plant construction site and from a bar near an oil compound, officials and witnesses said. At least one police officer was injured.
“Continued violence in Nigeria and allegedly rigged presidential elections only add to global geopolitical concerns that already have added plenty of premium to oil prices,” said analyst Michael Davies of Sucden in London.
Light, sweet crude for June delivery rose 40 cents to $64.08 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at midday in Europe. The contract on Wednesday fell 72 cents to settle at $63.68 a barrel.
Brent crude contract for June delivery gained 59 cents to $66.84 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Heating oil futures rose nearly a cent to $1.8622 a gallon, while natural gas prices lost 1.3 cents to $7.717 per 1,000 cubic feet.
U.S. government fuel stocks data showed gasoline supplies shrank less than expected, while crude stocks rose.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s weekly inventory report released Wednesday showed a 1.1 million barrel drop in gasoline stocks last week. Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a slightly larger drop of 1.2 million barrels.
The report also said, however, that crude oil stocks rose by 1.1 million barrels, in line with expectations. Distillate fuel inventories, which include heating oil and diesel, fell by 200,000 barrels, countering analyst expectations of a 210,000-barrel increase.
Refinery utilization edged up 0.5 percentage point to 88.3 percent from 87.8 percent last week, the report showed. Analysts expected an increase of 0.8 percentage point.