* Odds narrow on China stimulus as Q1 economy seen weak
* Supply concerns stemming from Ukraine crisis lift prices
* Libyan output drops further, Nigerian exports disrupted
* Coast Guard opens Houston Ship Channel for oil tankers
* Coming up: EIA data on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430
(Updates with API data)
By Elizabeth Dilts
NEW YORK, March 25 Brent crude oil futures rose
on Tuesday on renewed geopolitical risk over Russia and supply
disruptions in Nigeria and Libya, while U.S. crude was pressured
lower by forecasts for a stock build.
U.S. President Barack Obama said the international community
would not recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea on Tuesday,
just one day after major industrialized nations warned Moscow of
tougher economic sanctions if it goes beyond the seizure of the
Royal Dutch Shell declared force majeure on Nigeria's
Forcados crude exports, due to a pipeline leak caused by oil
theft. In Libya, production fell by roughly
80,000 barrels per day to about 150,000 bpd after a large
oilfield was shut.
Weighing on U.S. oil prices, domestic commercial crude
supplies were expected to have risen by 6.3 million barrels
according to the industry group, the American Petroleum
That would make for the 10th straight weekly build, and more
than double the 2.7 million barrel build analysts predicted in a
Reuters poll. The U.S. Energy Information Administration will
release its report on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT).
Brent crude rose just 18 cents to settle at $106.99.
U.S. crude fell 41 cents to settle at $99.19 per barrel.
The closely watched and traded Brent-U.S. crude oil price
spread CL-LCO1=R widened by 59 cents to $7.80.
"The factors that are battling out are the threat of a
supply disruption out of Ukraine, Libya and Nigeria, and the
fact that we have weak fundamentals and will see a build
tomorrow," said Gene McGillian, an analyst at Tradition Energy
in Stamford, Connecticut.
Speculation that China will act to support its slowing
economy and robust consumer confidence numbers in the U.S.
provided a floor for oil prices.
But the reopening of the Houston Ship Channel pressured U.S.
oil. The channel is a critical waterway for oil shipments that
had been closed for four days, which forced at least one big
refiner to decrease output and gave a boost to U.S. oil prices.
U.S. crude stocks likely rose 2.7 million barrels on average
last week, a Reuters poll forecast. Gasoline inventories are
expected to have fallen 1.2 million barrels, and distillate
inventories, including heating oil and diesel fuel, are also
expected to have fallen 1.4 million barrels, the poll showed.
(Reporting by Alex Lawler and Keith Wallis; Editing by Keiron
Henderson, Diane Craft, Tom Brown and Chris Reese)