Sun, Jan 02, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Crude oil price remains stable as turbulent year ends

AFP , LONDON

The Brent oil price showed little movement on Friday, the final trading day of a turbulent 2004, as the few remaining traders squared positions ahead of the New Year holiday break, dealers said.

In London the price of Brent North Sea crude oil for delivery in February was up US$0.13 at US$40.50 dollars a barrel in late afternoon trading. The market was due to close at about 1315 GMT.

The Brent price rose by 36 percent over 2004.

"Nothing is happening at all; there is no news around," said Keith Pascall, a trader at brokers GNI-Man Financial.

"If anything, we will hold steady, looking for a rally towards the close going into a long weekend," he added. "Given the unrest in the world at the moment, you may not want to be short going into a long weekend."

New York light, sweet crude shot up 10.93 dollars, or 33.6 percent, over the year to finish at US$43.45 dollars a barrel. On Thursday alone, the key contract for delivery in February slipped US$0.19.

After the official New York market closed, a mortar strike set fire to Baghdad's Dura oil refinery. Firefighters put out the fire on Friday.

"A catastrophe was averted," ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said.

One of the Dura refinery's production units was hit late Thursday in an apparent mortar or rocket attack and Jihad said several firemen were injured fighting the ensuing blaze.

The refinery provides fuel for Baghdad's main power plant, which supplies electricity for most of the capital and outlying areas.

Jihad described the attack as another attempt by insurgents to aggravate the fuel shortage gripping oil-rich Iraq that has cars waiting for hours for gas.

Meanwhile in Russia, state-owned company Rosneft reportedly installed a new chief executive in the offices of Yuganskneftegaz, the main asset of the embattled Yukos oil giant which was controversially renationalized last week.

Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed Yukos source as saying Rosneft had formally registered its ownership of Yuganskneftegaz and had named the head of Rosneft-Purneftegaz, Vladimir Bulba, as the new company chief.

Rosneft last week bought Baikalfinansgroup, the previously unknown company that paid more than US$9 billion for Yuganskneftegaz at an uncontested auction on Dec. 19.

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