(AFP) – Aug 25, 2008
NEW YORK (AFP) — Oil prices edged higher Monday in choppy, thin trade as the major Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline resumed operations after repairs from a fire and fresh unrest in Nigeria's oil-rich south.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for October, rose 52 cents to close at 115.11 dollars a barrel.
In London, Brent North Sea crude for October ticked up 11 cents to settle at 114.03 dollars.
Oil futures prices had shed more than six dollars a barrel Friday after gaining a similar amount Thursday, in see-sawing trade that analysts said reflected little support from fundamental factors.
"Perhaps the most convincing rationale is one we have been espousing that the market has reached a familiar impasse, in terms of the increasingly compelling arguments on both sides of the market," said John Kilduff at MF Global.
"Technicals have a consolidative look, and there is no fresh fundamental news of any consequence to move the markets."
Supply concerns eased after a major oil pipeline carrying crude from Azerbaijan to Turkey was once again operating after repairs from a fire three weeks ago.
"Tests were completed over the weekend. The pipeline is back in service," said an Istanbul-based member of the British energy giant BP, which operates the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan line (BTC).
An official of the Turkish petroleum company Botas, which runs the Turkish section of the line, confirmed the conduit was "operational" and the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan was ready to start shipping oil again.
"The tanks at Ceyhan have been filled and petrol exports can recommence," said the official, who asked not to be named.
The BTC, the world's second-longest pipeline at 1,774 kilometers (1,109 miles), carries Azeri oil from the Caspian Sea fields to Ceyhan. It can transport 1.2 million barrels of crude per day.
The BTC was shut on August 5 after a blast in a pump at a section in eastern Turkey sparked a fire.
Kurdish rebels fighting against the Ankara government claimed responsibility for the blast, though Turkish officials said they found no indication of foul play.
Meanwhile, unrest in Nigeria flared anew. Security sources said a Nigerian ship owned by West African Offshore Ltd (WAO) with eight crew members was hijacked Sunday in the country's oil-rich south.
Violence, including the kidnapping of oil workers, in Nigeria's volatile south has reduced total oil production by a quarter since January 2006.
Nigeria is Africa's second-largest oil producer after Angola.
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