UPDATE 8-Gasoline sell-off drags crude oil lower
21 Jun 2009 17:33:33 PST
* Gasoline futures slump 5.18 percent
* Nigerian rebels attack oil pipeline
(Updates prices with U.S., Brent settlements)
NEW YORK, June 19 - Oil prices fell 2.5 percent
to below $70 a barrel on Friday, pulled lower by a sell-off in
the gasoline market as dealers bet there would ample fuel
supply in the United States to meet demand from summer
U.S. crude fell $1.82 to settle at $69.55 a barrel.
Gasoline futures fell 10.51 cents, or 5.18 percent, to $1.9244
a gallon. Brent crude fell $1.87 to settle at $69.19 a barrel.
"Gasoline is under siege here, with the supply build after
production rose last week," said Andy Lebow, broker at MF
Global in New York.
U.S. gasoline supplies rose unexpectedly last week as
refiners boosted output to prepare for an expected seasonal
uptick in demand, according to government data issued
Experts have been mixed on how strong consumption for the
motor fuel will be this summer as the effects of the recession
counter-balance relatively low prices at the pumps.
The U.S. Transportation Department said on Friday Americans
drove more miles in April than they did a year earlier, marking
the first monthly rise in U.S. highway travel in more than a
Oil prices had been in positive territory earlier in the
day as rebel attacks in Nigeria hit output from the OPEC-member
country and economic optimism propelled equities markets
Nigeria's main militant group MEND said it had attacked a
pipeline operated by Italy's Agip, close on the heels of
previous attacks on facilities operated by Royal Dutch Shell
and Chevron. Together, the attacks have cut at least 133,000
barrels of daily output.
Rebels in Nigeria, the world's seventh-largest oil
exporter, have been carrying out attacks on the oil industry
for years in what they claim is a struggle aimed at spreading
the region's energy wealth to the poor local communities.
Oil prices also got some support from political turmoil in
Iran, the world's fifth largest exporter, in the wake of its
"We will see support continue to come from Iran and
Nigeria. There is no immediate supply threat from Iran, but in
Nigeria, (there) is an actual physical disruption," oil analyst
Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix said.
Oil prices have nearly doubled since February on signs of a
potential economic recovery but the pace of the rally has
sparked concerns prices are not well supported by