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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 October, 2004, 21:01 GMT 22:01 UK
Oil prices rise yet again in US
Oil refinery in Colombia
US oil refineries are working at full speed to keep up with demand
The price of crude oil has yet again risen to record highs in New York, driven up by official data showing a decline in key heating oil stocks.

A barrel of US light crude jumped $1.12 to end Thursday trading at $54.76, after briefly going as high as $54.88.

The decline in US heating oil stocks by 1.2 million barrels to 50 million prompted concern as consumption is expected to rise in the winter.

In London, Brent crude rose 79 cents to finish the day at $50.84 a barrel.

Oil prices are up 60% this year fuelled by strong demand and supply concerns.

Other factors

US oil analysts said the prolonged outage of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Ivan last month was another factor which continued to bolster prices.

The president of oil producers group Opec, Purnomo Yusgiantoro, said on Thursday that world oil prices would continue to rise through to the end of October because of high demand.

In addition to the US, this demand is being led by continuing record consumption in fast-growing China.

On the supply side, a strike in Nigeria and ongoing security concerns in Iraq and the wider Middle East are other contributory factors to the seemingly endless rise in the price of oil.

This is despite recent fresh pledges from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, both leading members of Opec, that they will raise output levels in order to keep the markets well supplied.

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