Oil up 4th day in a row, briefly tops US$93 a barrel for first time this month

The price of oil rose for a fourth straight day Tuesday and briefly topped US$93 for the first time this month before settling back.

At midday in New York, benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery was up 74 cents to US$92.80 a barrel after earlier rising to $93.47.

Oil has now risen nearly three per cent in the last four trading sessions. Whether it maintains that momentum could depend on this week’s reports on U.S. oil supplies.

Many traders believe the large supply of oil in the U.S. has kept a lid on prices. Last week the Energy Department said that the U.S. supply of crude was 10.3 per cent above year-ago levels. And U.S. oil production, at more than seven million barrels a day, is at the highest level since the late 1990s.

Data for the week ended March 8 is expected to show a build of 2.3 million barrels in crude oil stocks and a draw of 1.5 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

The American Petroleum Institute will release its report on oil stocks later Tuesday, while the report from the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration — the market benchmark — will be out on Wednesday.

Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, was down nine cents at US$109.60 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex, wholesale gasoline was unchanged at US$3.15 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), heating oil fell one cent to US$2.95 a gallon and natural gas rose a cent to US$3.66 per 1,000 cubic feet.