Oil rises over 3 percent on Nigeria attacks

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices rose more than 3 percent on Monday, lifted by word of fresh rebel attacks on oil installations in Nigeria and gains in equity markets.

A gas station attendant is reflected on a pair of eyeglasses as he fills gasoline at a Petron station in Manila May 12, 2009. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

Nigeria's main militant group said its fighters had attacked an oil facility belonging to Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L in the Niger Delta on Monday, days after President Umaru Yar'Adua proposed an amnesty.

U.S. crude rose $2.36 to $71.52 a barrel by 2:24 p.m. EDT (1824 GMT). London Brent crude rose $2.25 to $71.41.

Further support came as signs of life in overseas markets renewed investor optimism about the prospects for an economic recover. .N

“Anytime that we see the Dow Jones higher, the funds take that as a sign that the economy is going to strengthen and that oil demand will strengthen along with that,” said Peter Beutel, president of Cameron Hanover in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Signs of a turnaround in the global economy have helped lift crude prices up from below $40 a barrel in February. The economic crisis has battered global fuel demand, knocking crude off record highs set above $147 a barrel last year.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration revised up its April U.S. oil demand estimate by 1.18 percent, though the data showed consumption was still 6.56 percent lower than a year ago.

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The data came after an International Energy Agency mid-term oil forecast which said that there was a chance of an extended economic contraction and that the threat of a supply crunch had only receded, not gone away.

No. 2 oil consumer China, meanwhile, unexpectedly increased gasoline and diesel prices on Monday by nearly 9 percent and 10 percent respectively.


Crude was bolstered by militant activity in Nigeria as fighters forced production outages in the West African country.

Ongoing attacks in the OPEC nation have shut about 1.26 million bpd of oil production, with current output now around 1.74 million bpd, according to government figures.

Qatar’s oil minister Abdullah al Attiyah said that he does not see any need for OPEC to increase output when it meets in September.

OPEC has already targeted cutting 4.2 million barrels from September levels to help support prices.

Algerian Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil said that an increase in OPEC oil production was hard to envisage, despite rising crude prices.

A Reuters poll of analysts ahead of weekly inventory data forecast U.S. crude stockpiles fell by 1.6 million barrels last week, while gasoline stocks were seen up 2 million barrels and distillate stocks rose 1.5 million barrels. <EIA/S>

The American Petroleum Institute will release its weekly U.S. inventory on Tuesday, while the U.S. Energy Information Administration report is due out on Wednesday.

Additional reporting by Matthew Robinson, Gene Ramos and Robert Gibbons in New York and Christopher Johnson in London; Editing by Marguerita Choy