Oil prices move higher on supply tensions

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LONDON: World oil prices climbed back toward this week s record peaks Friday as traders fretted over threats to global energy supplies in Britain and Nigeria, analysts said.

New York s main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, added 82 cents to $116.88 a barrel.

London s Brent North Sea crude for June delivery won 94 cents to $115.28.

This week, prices rocketed to historic peaks as investors seized on mounting supply worries and the weak US currency, which makes dollar-priced crude cheaper for foreign buyers and tends to encourage demand.New York crude surged close to $120, hitting a record high $119.90 on Tuesday, before dipping in line with the strengthening greenback.

London Brent oil, meanwhile, set a lifetime peak of $116.87 on Thursday as fears grew over a looming strike at one of Britain s biggest oil refineries.

In Nigeria on Friday, the most prominent armed group in the southern oil-producing region it had sabotaged a supply pipeline belonging to Anglo-Dutch energy group Shell.

Crude futures recovered (on Friday) … after news emerged that Nigerian rebels attacked a pipeline in the Niger Delta, said Sucden analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov.

The Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has once again announced that it sabotaged an oil facility belonging to Royal Dutch Shell, following a series of attacks started at the end of last week.

In an e-mail to AFP, MEND said it had successfully sabotaged a major crude oil pipeline located at Kula river in Rivers state of Nigeria operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company on Thursday.

Several supply pipelines owned by Shell and Chevron have been destroyed in recent weeks.

Shell officials could not immediately confirm the latest attack.

On Tuesday, Shell announced a production loss of 169,000 barrels per day following the sabotage of its key supply pipelines in the region.

Royal Dutch Shell, Nigeria s largest oil operator accounting for around half of the country s 2.1 million barrels per day output, has seen a wave of attacks on its facilities in recent months.

Overall, violence in the Niger Delta has reduced Nigeria s total production by a quarter in the past two years.

In Britain, meanwhile, workers at the Grangemouth plant, west of Edinburgh in Scotland, are refusing to work on Sunday and Monday in a row over pensions.

As a result, British energy giant BP may have to close the Forties pipeline, that brings in oil from the North Sea and delivers a third of the country s daily output.

A potential strike at Grangemouth refinery in Scotland should help to underpin the market in the near term, added Kryuchenkov.

The 48-hour planned shut-down is scheduled to start on Saturday and market participants fear that BP could be forced to stop pumping around 700,000 barrel a day through the Forties pipeline system, as the pipeline relies on power from Grangemouth.

The industrial action has sparked widespread concerns over potential shortages of motor fuel in Britain.

BP was expected to make a decision on whether the pipeline will have to close on Saturday, while the Grangemouth facility could take up to two weeks to get fully up and running after the strike -AFP

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