London: Oil prices rose on 23 April as traders worried about possible tension in Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, following the weekend presidential election.
Though the election was largely peaceful, traders said there were fears that the results could lead to further tensions. A top opposition politician has called for the annulment of the vote as observers of the US-based International Republican Institute identified several voting-day irregularities.
Light, sweet crude for June delivery rose 27 cents to $64.38 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at midday in Europe. Brent crude for June rose 49 cents to $68.98 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
“The election process was largely criticized and we would wait for a few days before reducing the risk premium on Nigeria,” said Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix, who added that market participants were being cautious ahead of the results expected on 23 April evening.
Heating oil futures rose 1.55 cents to $1.8480 a gallon on the Nymex, while natural gas prices lost 9.6 cents to $7.285 per 1,000 cubic feet.
The week leading up to the elections in Nigeria — a main supplier to the United States — was chaotic and bloody. At least 49 people have died in election-related violence since 14 April.
Stepped-up violence since early 2006 in the unruly southern region where crude is pumped has cut Nigeria’s daily production by about a quarter, helping send global crude prices higher. More than 150 foreigners have been kidnapped over the past year.