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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 March, 2005, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
Oil prices up over petrol worries
A driver fills up with petrol
Prices at US petrol pumps are at record highs
Oil prices moved back above $54 a barrel on Thursday as concern about tightening gasoline stockpiles in the US drove prices higher.

Gasoline demand is up, but stock levels are similar to year-ago levels, despite crude oil stocks being at their highest levels for almost three years.

US light crude rose 25 cents to $54.32 a barrel, while Brent Crude held at $52.09 in London lunchtime trading.

US gasoline stocks fell by 2.9 million barrels last week to 214.4 million.

The figures from the US Energy Information Administration were revealed on Wednesday.

But demand for gasoline has risen 2% in the past four weeks.

Shrinking supply

We have said that we have to wait and see, another quarter and another season are coming
Rafael Ramirez, Venezuelan Energy Minister

Prices at US petrol pumps are at record levels, with an SG Commodities Research report observing that "the US gasoline supply-demand balance is tightening at lightening speed."

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) increased oil supplies by 500,000 barrels a day to 27.5 million barrels in mid-March.

But its president, Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah, said last week he did not think further increases were needed before the third quarter.

And Venezuela has said it is too early to say whether Opec needs to increase supplies.

"We have said that we have to wait and see, another quarter and another season are coming, Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez is reported by Reuters as saying on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Nigerian oil workers have given notice that they are to hold a "warning" strike on 11 April, in protest at the increasing use of casual labour by international oil giants.

Dollar's rebound trims oil price
29 Mar 05 |  Business

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