21 May 2007 - 11:06
  • News Code: 105157

SINGAPORE - Oil prices edged higher in Asian trade in a market focused on fresh troubles in Nigeria and tight US gasoline supplies just ahead of the peak summer driving season, dealers said.

At 11.11 am (0311 GMT), New York"s main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, was up 21 cents at 65.15 usd a barrel after closing at 64.94 usd in US trading Friday.

 

Brent North Sea crude for July delivery rose 32 cents to 69.74 usd, having hit an eight-month high of 70.35 usd on Friday.

 

"The market is waiting for some direction ... and (it) is rather quiet," said Tobin Gorey, Commonwealth Bank of Australia commodities strategist in Sydney.

 

"The issue with gasoline remains ... The market is still very sensitive to gasoline supplies," Gorey said.

 

Dealers said the market remained concerned whether US refineries could meet gasoline demand when Americans take to the highways during the holiday driving season which begins on the May 26-28 weekend.

 

US government data showed gasoline inventories are more than 7.0 pct below their five-year average for mid-May.

 

The market was also tracking fresh troubles in Nigeria, the world"s sixth-biggest crude producer, where recent rebel attacks on energy facilities have slashed output by about a quarter.

 

This month alone more than 30 foreigners have been abducted in the volatile Niger delta region while more than 150 foreign workers have been kidnapped since the start of last year.

 

On Sunday, Nigerian oil unions threatened to launch a strike beginning Thursday to protest the planned sale of two government-owned oil refineries in the city of Port Harcourt to private investors.

 

"What could stir things a bit are worries over the strike on May 24 that would affect the global crude market," Gorey said.

 

PIN/AFP

News Code 105157

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