AP Worldstream: Crude prices flat ahead of key market data from U.S.: “Overnight, crude prices were slightly buoyed after news that unknown assailants had blown up a Royal Dutch Shell pipeline in Nigeria on Tuesday, killing at least eight people and knocking 170,000 barrels of crude offline.”: Wednesday December 21, 2005
The price of crude was flat Wednesday, ahead of the U.S. government's weekly market-moving snapshot of its petroleum supply, which was expected to show dips in stocks of heating fuel.
Overnight, crude prices were slightly buoyed after news that unknown assailants had blown up a Royal Dutch Shell pipeline in Nigeria on Tuesday, killing at least eight people and knocking 170,000 barrels of crude offline.
Midmorning in Singapore, February light, sweet crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose five cents to US$58.14 a barrel on its first day of trade as the front-month contract. In New York, January Nymex crude rose 64 cents to settle at US$57.98, its first upward settlement in four days.
Trading was subdued, with many awaiting the release of commercially available petroleum stocks in the United States, the world's largest energy consumer.
A Dow Jones Newswires poll of analysts said they expect the U.S. Energy Department to report a decline of 1.1 million barrels in crude oil inventories and a decline of the same size in distillate stocks due to last week's heavy snowstorms in the eastern United States. Distillates include heating oil.
The report was expected to show a build of about 600,000 barrels in gasoline stocks.
In Nigeria Tuesday, attackers dynamited a Royal Dutch Shell pipeline in the south of Africa's largest exporter, which momentarily lifted prices.
Shell spokesman Andy Corrigan confirmed the blast, but had no information on what set it off or whether it caused injuries.
Unrest in key producers Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq were partly blamed for the price rise in 2004 when analysts had said any disruption to supply could impact the world's already thin buffer of spare crude.
"The fact is, there is plenty of crude oil around," said Michael Cambria, vice president with Dimon Oil in New York.
In other Nymex prices, heating oil rose slightly to US$1.7225 a gallon (3.8 liters), gasoline was also up at US$1.514 a gallon, while natural gas traded at US$14.10 per 1,000 cubic feet, a gain of two cents.
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