Oil prices advance: above 72 dollars in New York

LONDON, June 27, 2006 (AFP) – World oil prices rose on Tuesday, supported by refinery disruption and strong energy demand in the United States, as well as jitters over Iran, analysts said.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, climbed 45 cents to 72.25 dollars per barrel in pit trading.

In London, Brent North Sea crude for August delivery gained 51 cents to 71.24 dollars per barrel in electronic deals.

"The Calacasieu shipping channel in the (US) Gulf Coast remains closed as oil spill clean-up operations continue, providing support to the oil complex, particularly to gasoline prices," Barclays Capital analyst Kevin Norrish said.

The US Coast Guard has said only limited tug and barge traffic has resumed through the Calcasieu Ship Channel, which had been off limits due to the spread of oil from a spill last week at the Citgo Petroleum Corp facility in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

"All the refineries in the immediate Lake Charles area have reported reductions to their crude runs since the accident occurred," Norrish said.

He added that the disruption "illustrates the endemic vulnerability of the capacity constrained US refinery system to even relatively minor production problems".

Sucden analyst Sam Tilley meanwhile said that prices were winning support also from data suggesting that demand for gasoline, or petrol, in the United States remained strong despite the high cost of crude.

"The market is now turning its attention towards tomorrow’s (Wednesday’s) weekly US inventory data to see whether last week’s unexpected (weak performance) in gasoline was just a blip or part of a trend that shows consistent stronger demand for gasoline."