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« Nigeria militants claim to free leader | Main | APGA crisis: Okorie wants Ojukwu’s nomination quashed »

February 05, 2007

Oil nears $60 as cold weather grips U.S.

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil touched a fresh one-month high on Monday near $60 a barrel as cold weather gripped the United States and forecasters said temperatures would stay below normal for at least the next ten days, boosting heating demand.

Mon Feb 5, 2007 10:16 AM EST
By Simon Webb

U.S. crude oil was up 62 cents at $59.64 a barrel at 1503 GMT after hitting a one-month peak of $59.92 a barrel. London Brent crude rose 66 cents to $59.07.

"The ongoing cold weather in the U.S. is still the biggest upside factor at the moment. We're finally seeing a more normal climate in the Northeast so that will increase consumption in heating oil and hopefully result in lower inventory numbers," said Andrew Harrington, an analyst at ANZ Bank.

U.S. heating demand was expected to be about 20 percent above normal in the week ending February 10, the U.S. National Weather Service said on Monday.

Forecasters said temperatures in the northeastern United States, the world's largest heating oil market, were expected to average below to much below normal for the next six to 10 days.

Prices surged $3.60, or 6.5 percent last week. They jumped $1.72 on Friday alone.

NIGERIA

Earlier, the market dipped after oil unions in Nigeria, the world's eighth-largest oil exporter, suspended plans on Sunday for an indefinite strike.

The unions said they would meet with President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday to discuss the lack of security in the Niger Delta that has shut down a fifth of the country's oil output.

Although the immediate strike threat has ebbed, analysts say the market will remain on edge over the possibility of further violence before elections in April.

In Iran, the top nuclear official said on Sunday the country would not suspend its uranium enrichment work as demanded by a U.N. sanctions resolution.

Tehran's latest defiant statements have revived worries that the world's fourth-largest oil producer would cut oil output in retaliation if the United States, which fears it is trying to build atom bombs, pushed for further sanctions.

Iran says it is seeking only civilian nuclear energy.

Oil prices have rebounded from a slide below $50 a barrel in mid-January, aided in part by a second 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) output cut from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that took effect on February 1.

Posted by Publisher at February 5, 2007 02:38 PM

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