LONDON: Crude prices edged up on Monday, building on recent gains with Brent holding above $50 after Nigerian militants claimed fresh attacks on the country s oil infrastructure.
Prices see-sawed last week, plunging in the immediate aftermath of Britain s shock decision to leave the European Union but rallying after central banks worldwide vowed support to financial markets.
At about 1045 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate was up 13 cents at $49.12, while Brent rose 16 cents to $50.51. Analysts said trading was light Monday owing to the Independence Day holiday in the United States.
“Rebels from the Niger Delta Avengers made renewed attacks on oil facilities at the weekend, meaning that hopes of any prolonged ceasefire have proven illusory,” said analysts at Commerzbank.
“The subject of supply outages will keep the market on tenterhooks for some time yet, in other words, thereby lending support to prices,” they said.
Nigerian production is now at 30-year lows, noted Accendo Markets analysts Michael van Dulken and Augustin Eden, and this, they said, easily outweighed a rise in operational US drilling rigs which exercised mild downward pressure on world oil prices.
The commodity rallied at the end of last week as news filtered through of an attack on a restaurant in Dhaka, which compounded worries about terrorism days after suicide bombers hit Istanbul airport.
On Sunday, a Nigerian rebel group claimed five attacks on the country s oil and gas infrastructure, threatening to scupper efforts to boost production.
The Niger Delta Avengers have been bombing pipelines in a bid to win a bigger share of crude revenue and political autonomy for the Delta region. The attacks have hit output from Africa s largest oil producer.
EY Services oil and gas analyst Sanjeev Gupta said dealers were also keeping an eye on the release Friday of US economic data, including on employment in the world s top oil consuming nation.