Oil prices hover above $59 a barrel

Oil prices hover above $59 a barrel

Oil prices slipped but remained above $59 a barrel Thursday ahead of a U.S. government report that is expected to show crude oil inventories rose last week.

Traders were also watching developments in the Middle East, with the stage being set for a fresh showdown between Iran and Western powers over the nation’s nuclear program.

Light, sweet crude for April delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 41 cents to $59.66 a barrel in electronic trading by midday in Europe.

Brent crude for April delivery on the ICE Futures Exchange in London fell 20 cents to $59.15 a barrel.

Data from the U.S.
Department of Energy due later Thursday was expected to show domestic crude oil stockpiles rose in the week ending Feb. 16, while distillates are falling, according to a Dow Jones Newswires survey of nine analysts.

Crude oil inventories are expected to increase by an average of 700,000 barrels, according to analysts’ forecasts. Gasoline inventories should increase by about 100,000 barrels. Distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, are expected to fall by 2.8 million barrels.

Heating oil futures were little changed at $1.6810 a gallon, while natural gas prices dropped 3.6 cents to $7.610 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, was expected to confirm on Thursday that Iran ””

OPEC’s No. 2 exporter ”” continues to enrich uranium, a finding that could trigger harsher U.N. sanctions.

On Wednesday, Iran called for talks with the U.S. regarding its uranium enrichment activities, but showed no signs of halting its program.

Light sweet crude rose 2.1 percent on Wednesday to settle above $60 a barrel on the Nymex for the first time this year following increasing tensions over Iran’s uranium enrichment program and a pipeline and oil field shutdown.

TEPPCO Partners LP said Wednesday that part of a refined products pipeline was shut down after a leak was discovered in Indiana, according to Dow Jones Newswires. TEPPCO gave no estimate of how much diesel was lost or when the pipeline will be back in service.

BP shut down its Northstar oil field in the Arctic Ocean late Tuesday after a small leak was found in a gas line. The company doesn’t know when the field will resume operations.

AP via Yahoo News

Share this post