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THE NEW YORK TIMES: Oil Prices Remain Above $64 Per Barrel

Published: March 27, 2006
Filed at 3:27 a.m. ET
SINGAPORE (AP) — Crude oil prices held steady Monday above $64 a barrel amid lingering concerns about Nigerian and Iranian oil supplies.
Light, sweet crude for May delivery fell 6 cents to $64.20 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract on Friday rose 35 cents to settle at $64.26 a barrel, 2 percent higher for the week.
April Brent crude futures on London's ICE Futures exchange fell 7 cents to $63.44 a barrel.
Gasoline prices dipped 0.52 cent to $1.8180 a gallon while heating oil futures rose 0.41 cent to $1.7965 a gallon. Natural gas futures fell 13 cents to $7.160 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Prices continued to be supported by concerns about supply disruptions in Nigeria and tension over Iran's nuclear program.
''The Nigerian attacks have really sparked concerns about supply,'' said David Thurtell, commodity strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney. ''People are wondering how deep is it going to go and how long will it go on for?''
On Monday, militants in Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta released their last remaining foreign hostages — two Americans and one Briton — more than five weeks after the oil-industry workers were kidnapped, officials said.
The militants took nine foreign oil workers hostage Feb. 18 from a barge owned by Houston-based oil services company Willbros Group Inc., which was laying pipeline in the delta for Royal Dutch Shell. The group released six of the captives after 12 days in captivity.
The militants are behind a spate of attacks that have cut Nigeria's oil exports by more than 20 percent. On Saturday, they said they killed three soldiers in fresh clashes near a key natural gas plant run by Royal Dutch Shell. Shell said there was no impact on the gas plant.
Iran, the No. 2 oil producer in OPEC, has been referred to the U.N. Security Council over fears it may want to misuse its nuclear program to make weapons, but the council has been at loggerheads over U.S.-led efforts to ratchet up the pressure on Iran. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes.

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