Global oil prices advanced further Wednesday after reports of Mississippi floods threatening oil refineries and storage facilities in the US, world’s largest oil user. Benchmark crude for June delivery was up 10 cents to $103.98 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.33 to settle, or 1.3%, at $103.88 on Tuesday. In other Nymex trading in June contracts, heating oil added 1.1 cents to $3.03 a gallon and gasoline fell 3.0 cents to $3.35 a gallon. Natural gas futures were up 1.6 cents at $4.26 per 1,000 cubic feet. The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude inventories rose 2.9 million barrels last week, more than the increase of 1.6 million barrels predicted by analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos. The Mississippi River water level crested to nearly 48 feet on some parts of Memphis, falling short of its all-time record but still soaking low-lying areas with enough water to require a massive cleanup. To the south, residents in the Mississippi Delta prepared for the worst.
Analysts said the oil took an immediate blow on reports that record floods might affect refineries along the river.
The river is also a major transport line for Louisiana, which hosts at least two refineries and hundreds of oil and gas wells.
Strong Chinese data which said oil demand climbed in the country despite its efforts to cool the economy also boosted prices, they added. China's trade surplus ballooned to $11.4 billion in April and exports hit a record monthly high, data showed Tuesday.
In London, Brent North Sea crude for June delivery rose $1.73 to settle at $117.63 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.