Oil near $102 on Ukraine crisis, Libya export woes
The price of oil rebounded to near $102 a barrel Thursday on worries about tensions in Ukraine and continued concerns about crude exports from Libya and Nigeria.
By early afternoon in Europe, U.S. crude for June delivery was up 34 cents to $101.78 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday, the Nymex contract fell 31 cents.
Brent crude, an international benchmark for oil, was up 15 cents to $109.26 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Ukraine is going through its biggest political crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union, sparked by months of anti-government protests and President Viktor Yanukovych's flight to Russia.
President Barack Obama, while visiting Tokyo on Thursday, warned Moscow that the U.S. has another round of economic sanctions "teed up." Russia is a major supplier of oil and natural gas to Europe.
The Ukrainian government has been trying to regain control over government buildings in several eastern cities occupied by pro-Russia protesters and masked gunmen.
"In Ukraine, the political conditions continue to remain highly uncertain," said Myrto Sokou of Sucden Financial Research in London. "There might be fresh worries about oil supplies in the region, which have caused fairly volatile trading conditions in the oil market."
Obstacles faced by oil exports in Libya and Nigeria also helped boost prices.
In Libya - traditionally a key supplier of high-quality crude to European refineries - crucial export stations are still in the hands of militias, while in Nigeria, Shell said its Forcados oil export terminal remained closed, seven weeks after it was shut down to repair a sabotaged undersea pipeline.
Forcados has capacity to export 400,000 barrels a day, more than one fifth of Nigeria's production of 2.2 million barrels.
Oil prices, however, remain under pressure from a bigger-than-expected rise in oil supplies.
The U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that oil supplies rose 3.5 million barrels in the week that ended April 18. That exceeded the expectations of analysts surveyed by Platts, who forecast an increase of 3.1 million barrels. At a record 397.7 million barrels, supplies are now 2.3 percent above year-earlier levels.
In other energy futures trading in New York:
- Wholesale gasoline was flat at $3.04 a gallon.
- Heating oil was little changed at $2.98 a gallon.
- Natural gas added 3 cents to $4.76 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Michelle Faul in Lagos, Nigeria, contributed to this report.