​Oil dips to near $110 after biggest weekly rise in 2014

February 22, 2014 - 12:00:00 am
LONDON: Brent crude oil slipped to around $110 a barrel yesterday but remained on course for its highest weekly close this year, as supply disruptions in Africa have tightened the market.

Domestic conflicts in Libya and South Sudan, as well as escalating protests in Venezuela have helped support spot oil prices at a time when northern hemisphere winter heating demand is close to its peak.  

Brent crude futures for April were down 25 cents at $110.05 a barrel by 1300 GMT, having hit a seven-week high of $110.82 on Wednesday. Its low yesterday was $109.90.  US crude futures for April delivery dropped 30 cents to $102.45.

Brent’s premium to US crude  narrowed to as little as $7.09 in the previous session, its tightest since October 9, and was around $7.50 a barrel yesterday.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was heading for its sixth straight weekly rise as a new pipeline helps drain supplies from WTI’s delivery point at Cushing, Oklahoma.

But prices faced some pressure on signs Iran substantially increased crude oil exports to China and India in January, though total exports from the Islamic Republic remain constrained by Western sanctions. 

The United Nations nuclear watchdog also reported on Thursday that Iran’s most contested uranium stockpile has declined significantly following a landmark nuclear deal with world powers in November. 

Data from the US Energy Information Administration on Thursday was mixed for oil as Cushing crude stocks fell 1.73 million barrels in the week to February 14.