Oil Leaps on U.S. Gulf, Alaska Supply Disruptions


"Delayed operations could significantly impact the market."

U.S. oil prices rose sharply on Tuesday as a shut production platform in the Gulf of Mexico curbed more supply on top of the shut Alaska crude pipeline still keeping more than half a million barrels per day of output offline.

Chevron shut in a platform on Eugene Island Block in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico after an upset on the structure on Monday, according to a filing with regulators.

The Trans Alaska Pipeline System's main oil pipeline remained closed but was still expected to restart this week after a spill on Saturday forced it to shut down, according to a source familiar with its operations.

Forecasts for below normal temperatures and above normal heating oil demand in the United States sent U.S. heating oil futures HOc1 to a 28-month high.

U.S. crude oil for February delivery CLc1 rose $1.70, or 1.9%, to $90.95 a barrel at 11:50 a.m. EST (1650 GMT), having reached $91.20.

In London, ICE Brent crude for February LCOc1 rose $1.88 to $97.58 a barrel, having traded as high as $97.75.

The premium for London's ICE Brent crude over the U.S. light sweet crude benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, jumped above $7 a barrel on Tuesday, pushing the spread CL-LCO1=R to its widest since February 2009.

Brent has traded above U.S. crude since August last year, supported by a combination of dwindling North Sea crude supplies and the resulting disruption of oil grades.

Traders said if the disruption to the Alaskan pipeline lingers, it could result in shifting crude supplies priced off Brent to the U.S. West Coast.

"There is the possibility the pipeline will resume operations pretty soon, in fact 3-5 days from now, but if it doesn't, it will have a strong impact on the market," said Christophe Barret, global oil analyst at Credit Agricole.

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