* Cushing crude stockpiles fall 1.73 mln barrels -EIA
* South Sudan cuts oil production to 170,000 bpd -official
* Coming up: U.S. existing home sales at 1500 GMT
By Florence Tan
SINGAPORE, Feb 21 Brent crude hovered above $110
a barrel on Friday, underpinned by supply disruptions in Africa,
while U.S. oil is set for a sixth weekly rise buoyed by lower
supplies at the contract's delivery point and strong heating
demand in North America.
Gains in West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude shrank its gap
with Brent to the narrowest in four months as supplies at WTI's
delivery point in Cushing, Oklahoma, fell after a new pipeline
diverted crude to the Gulf Coast.
April Brent crude had inched up 1 cent to $110.31 a
barrel by 0254 GMT, while U.S. crude futures for April delivery
dropped 1 cent to $102.74.
Brent's premium to U.S. crude CL-LCO1=R narrowed to as
little as $7.09 in the previous session, its tightest since Oct.
"There is more upside for WTI than Brent because of the
ongoing bullish news," said Tan Chee Tat, analyst at Phillips
Futures in Singapore, pointing to extreme winter conditions in
the United States that are boosting heating oil demand.
A weaker U.S. dollar, which fell to a seven-week low against
the euro earlier this week, has also boosted demand for
dollar-denominated commodities as they become more affordable to
holders of other currencies.
Energy Information Administration (EIA) data released on
Thursday was mixed for oil as Cushing crude stocks fell 1.73
million barrels in the week to Feb. 14, while the country's
overall crude inventories rose almost 1 million barrels.
Distillate stocks fell just 340,000 barrels, the data
showed, far less than the 2 million barrel draw expected by
Domestic conflicts in Libya and South Sudan, and escalating
protests in Venezuela are supporting Brent prices.
South Sudan has cut again its oil production to about
170,000 barrels per day even before the rebel strike on Malakal,
which lies on the edge of Upper Nile state's oil fields, a
petroleum ministry official told Reuters. The government halted
45,000 bpd of output in neighbouring Unity earlier in the
Maintenance at Angola's Plutonio oilfield in March will also
cut supply by about 180,000 bpd.
"Renewed risks would definitely support Brent comfortably at
$105-$110 a barrel, but it would not go beyond that," said Tan.
(Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Joseph Radford)