: Abqaiq prompts spike

03 March 2006

Oil prices rose in late February on the back of a foiled attack on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure and continued tension in Nigeria. Spot Brent was trading at $59.95 a barrel on 1 March, compared with $57.52 a barrel a week earlier.

The attempted suicide bombings on 24 February at the Abqaiq oil processing facility and the Ras Tanura refinery caused an immediate price spike - in spite of there being no impact on production - as concerns about global energy security inevitably rose. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility and threatened further attacks.

A more bearish note was provided by US inventory data for the week to 24 February, released on 1 March, which showed crude and gasoline stocks rising by more than expected. Crude inventories increased by 0.5 per cent to 328.3 million barrels while gasoline supplies climbed by 0.1 per cent to 225.9 million barrels.

With prices still high, few analysts anticipate OPEC cutting quotas at their 8 March meeting.

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