LONDON (Reuters) – Oil steadied above $71 a barrel on Monday after rising to a 10-month high on worries about low U.S. fuel supplies at a time of peak gasoline demand in the world’s top consumer.
Gunmen in Nigeria overran an oilfield station operated by Italy’s Eni
London Brent crude for August, seen as more representative of global prices, eased 25 cents to $71.22 a barrel by 0900 GMT. U.S. crude for July slipped 12 cents at $67.88.
Brent hit a 10-month high of $71.88 on Friday after the latest report on U.S. fuel stocks showed stockpiles unexpectedly failed to rise and refinery use declined.
In Nigeria, gunmen overran the 40,000 barrel-per-day oilfield station and held 24 local workers hostage, Eni said. A spokeswoman did not say whether oil production had stopped.
About 600,000 bpd of Nigeria’s crude is shut down because of militant attacks. A union leader said this week’s general strike will halt oil exports.
Dealers also weighed the potential of violence in Israel widening to draw in neighboring Middle East states, which pump a quarter of the world’s oil.
Israel said on Sunday it cut fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip, as it hopes to isolate Gaza after Hamas seized control of the territory.
U.S. crude hit a record $78.40 nearly a year ago on fears that fighting between Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas could spread to Middle East oil producers.
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and the European Union’s foreign policy chief may meet again in the next few days for talks on Iran’s atomic program, a dispute that has underpinned prices this year.