HOUSTON, Jan.18 -- Crude futures prices jumped above $66/bbl on Jan. 17 for the first time since September in the New York market, spurred by concerns over civil unrest that has curbed production in Nigeria and a possible confrontation over Iran's proposed nuclear program.
Militants in Nigeria threatened more raids to cripple that country's exports of oil unless a militia captain is released from government custody. The militants have taken four hostages, including one American, whom they are offering to exchange. Royal Dutch Shell PLC declared force majeure after it shut in 106,000 b/d of Nigerian production [OGJ Online, Jan. 16, 2006).
US and European officials are still trying to call an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in order to impose sanctions against Iran after it broke seals on some of its nuclear-research sites. Iran has denied that it is planning to develop nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, the US Energy Information Administration will not publish its weekly survey of US inventories of crude and petroleum products until Jan. 19 because of the US holiday for Martin Luther King's birthday on Jan. 16.
The February contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes jumped by $2.39 to $66.31/bbl Jan. 17 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The March crude contract escalated by $2.36 to $66.94/bbl. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate at Cushing, Okla., was up by $2.39 to $66.32/bbl.
Gasoline for February delivery climbed by 9.22¢ to $1.82/gal on NYMEX. Heating oil for the same month increased by 7.65¢ to $1.79/gal. Rising crude prices lifted the February natural gas contract by 37.7¢ to $9.17/MMbtu.
In London, the March contract for North Sea Brent crude gained $1.72 to $64.90/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange. Gas oil for February was up by $7.50 to $547.25/tonne.
The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of 11 benchmark crudes increased by 87¢ to $58.58/bbl on Jan. 17.
Contact Sam Fletcher at [email protected].