* Statoil shuts two N. Sea fields, adds lift to oil prices
* API: US crude stocks rose unexpectedly, gasoline jumped
* Coming Up: US EIA oil inventory data, 1530 GMT Wednesday
(Updates trading volume in paragraph six, adds API inventory
report in paragraphs 14-15)
By Robert Gibbons
NEW YORK, Jan 11 U.S. oil prices jumped 2
percent to top $91 a barrel on Tuesday as the shutdown of two
North Sea oilfields stoked supply concerns for markets already
on edge from the closure of Alaska's main crude pipeline.
More support came from forecasts for stronger heating
demand this week as the U.S. Northeast, the world's biggest
heating oil market, prepared for another snowstorm. [ID:nN1313]
Oil received an early boost after Norway's Statoil (STL.OL)
said it shut about 157,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude
production due to a gas leak at the offshore Snorre and Vigdis
fields and did not know when they would restart.
State and company officials sought to restart the Trans
Alaska Pipeline System's main oil pipeline. The pipeline closed
on Saturday after a leak, forcing the shutdown of over 600,000
bpd of production, nearly 12 percent of U.S. oil output.
U.S. crude oil for February delivery CLc1 rose $1.86 to
settle at $91.11 a barrel, having reached $91.39. U.S. heating
oil futures HOc1 rose 2 percent to their highest level since
October 2008 on expectations colder weather will boost demand.
U.S. crude futures trading volume totaled 926,998 lots at
the end of post-settlement trade, well above the 250-day
average of 618,458 lots, according to Reuters data, continuing
a post-holiday volume rebound.
In London, ICE Brent crude for February LCOc1 rose $1.91
to settle at $97.61 a barrel, having traded as high as $97.82.
Oil also found support from news that Chevron (CVX.N) shut
a Eugene Island crude oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico on
Monday. The company later said the platform was offline for
only an hour and had restarted production, easing concerns.
BRENT/U.S. CRUDE SPREAD WIDENS
The premium for London's ICE Brent crude over the U.S.
light sweet crude benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, jumped
above $7 a barrel intraday, pushing the spread CL-LCO1=R to
its widest since February 2009.
The Statoil news added another factor to the mix that has
kept Brent trading above U.S. crude since August last year,
supported by a combination of dwindling North Sea crude
supplies and disruption of oil grades priced off it.
Traders said if the disruption to the Alaskan pipeline
lingers, it could result in shifting crude supplies priced off
Brent to the U.S. West Coast.
"There is the possibility the pipeline will resume
operations pretty soon, in fact three-five days from now, but
if it doesn't, it will have a strong impact on the market,"
said Christophe Barret, global oil analyst at Credit Agricole.
"If the pipeline doesn't restart, the need to find other
sources will impact crude oil prices in the Middle East."
EYEING U.S. OIL INVENTORIES
U.S. crude oil stockpiles managed a 57,000-barrel gain last
week, according to data from industry group the American
Petroleum Institute released late on Tuesday, in the face of
expectations crude stocks had fallen. [API/S]
Gasoline stocks rose by a whopping 7.0 million barrels and
distillate stocks added 1.6 million barrels, the API report
The U.S. government's Energy Information Administration
will release its own data on inventories on Wednesday at 10:30
a.m. EST (1530 GMT).
Ahead of the API data, an expanded Reuters survey of
analysts on Tuesday forecast U.S. crude oil inventories
probably fell 1.1 million barrels last week. [EIA/S]
Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel
fuel, were seen up 1.0 million barrels, while gasoline stocks
were expected to be up 1.8 million barrels, the survey showed.
U.S. retail gasoline demand was little changed last week
from the previous period but fell compared to year-ago levels,
a MasterCard report said. [ID:nN11143805]
(Additional reporting by Gene Ramos in New York, Christopher
Johnson and Jessica Donati in London and Alejandro Barbajosa in
Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Dale Hudson)