World oil prices extended gains on Thursday as energy giant Royal Dutch Shell halted deliveries inmajor producer Nigeria after a pipeline explosion there that reportedly killed at least eight people.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, rose 14 cents to 58.70 dollars per barrel on Nymex, where gasoline futures were up less than a penny at 1.542 dollars per gallon.
In London, February Brent futures climbed 27 cents to 56.99 dollars a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
In Nigeria, Shell declared late Wednesday a state of "force majeure," meaning it can legally breach the terms of its contracts.
It followed a pipeline explosion on Tuesday that has resulted in a loss of 180,000 barrels of oil per day, a Shell spokesman said.
Preliminary investigations reveal that the fire may have been caused by a dynamite attack carried out by unknown persons.
Elsewhere, crude oil futures also won support on Thursday from data by the Department of Energy. On Wednesday it said that U.S. distillates stocks, which include heating fuel and diesel, fell by2.8 million barrels to 127.7 million in the week to Dec. 16.
That was more than triple analysts' forecasts of an 800,000-barrel drop, reflecting colder U.S. weather.
In Beijing, Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said the group was likely to reduce its crude oil production next year if demand and prices fell.