Singapore: World oil prices were higher at above $96 in Asian trade Tuesday on persistent worries over the outlook for crude supplies, dealers said.
In morning trade, New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March, rose 65 cents to $96.15 a barrel in electronic deals on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).
It had touched an intra-day high of $96.45 a barrel.
Floor trading at NYMEX was shut on Monday for the President’s Day public holiday.
Brent North Sea crude for April delivery was up two cents at $94.93 per barrel.
“There has been no major news to affect the market today but concerns about recent supply disruptions in Nigeria and Venezuela are still supportive of pricing,” said David Moore, a commodity strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney.
Oil-producer Venezuela has cut off oil supplies to US energy giant ExxonMobil over a legal dispute, highlighting supply concerns.
The legal battle relates to ExxonMobil’s bid to secure compensation after Venezuela’s government nationalised key oil fields in the Orinoco basin, including two ExxonMobil operations.
ExxonMobil said it has won court orders in New York, London, the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles freezing some $12 billion of assets of Venezuela’s state-owned oil producer PDVSA in those jurisdictions.
In Nigeria, unrest rekindled market worries about output from Africa’s largest crude oil producer. Instability and violence have resulted in Nigeria’s oil output being slashed by a quarter in 2007.
Worries that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will not increase production is also expected to affect the market in the short term, Moore said.
Iran on Sunday declined to rule out that the OPEC cartel would cut production at its next meeting in early March, a move vehemently opposed by oil-consuming countries.
Asked whether OPEC would cut its output quota at its next meeting in Vienna on March 5, Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari replied: “We will certainly need to examine the state of the market and also the global oil reserves and then decide.