MARKET WATCH: Brent prices climb on Ukraine, Libya news; NYMEX oil follows

Ongoing political instability in Ukraine and Libya continued to drive up crude oil futures prices on New York and London markets Apr. 14 to their highest levels in more than a month.

Analysts largely attributed the gain in US light, sweet oil prices to gains of more than $1/bbl in the Brent contract on the London market.

Libya Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni resigned Apr. 13, saying his family was attacked on Apr. 12. He was the second prime minister to leave the post in as many months.

Previous Minister Ali Zeidan was voted out by Libya’s interim parliament during March.

Meanwhile pro-Russia activists and militants continued to occupy Ukraine government buildings, which some analysts suggest could trigger a confrontation with the central government of Ukraine.

Consequently, crude oil prices rose on concerns about supply disruptions, some analysts said. But Morgan Stanley discounted the likelihood of a supply disruption.

“We still expect no physical disruptions and see the recent rally as unjustified,” Morgan Stanley said in an Apr. 14 research note, saying more oil is expected to reach world markets from Angola and Libya in May.

Meanwhile in Nigeria, a bombing in Abuja killed about 70 people and wounded another 120.

The incident “could signal a dangerous expansion of the activities of extremist groups, such as Boko Haram,” said Barclays analyst Helima Croft. “Such attacks could worsen as the country heads into potentially polarizing elections in 2015.”

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange May crude oil contract price was up 31¢ on Apr. 14, closing at $104.05/bbl. The June contract climbed 59¢ to $103.21/bbl. The front-month contract was at its highest since Mar. 3.

Heating oil for May delivery climbed 4.59¢ to a rounded $2.98/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for May delivery was up 2.4¢ to a rounded $3.04/gal.

The May natural gas contract was down 6¢ to a rounded $4.56/MMbtu.

In London, the May ICE contract for Brent crude delivery rose $1.74, closing at $109.07/bbl, which was the front-month’s highest closing since Mar. 4. The June contract also closed at $109.07/bbl, increasing $1.67 from the previous closing. The ICE gas oil contract for May increased $6 to $910/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its basket of 12 benchmark crudes for Apr. 11 was $104.81/bbl, a gain of 74¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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