Oil prices higher in Asia

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 04 2009 12:51 PM | Updated as of Feb 04 2009 09:12 PM

SINGAPORE - Oil prices rose on Wednesday after a possible nationwide strike at US energy facilities was averted, helping to calm a market still dominated by falling demand, dealers said.

New York's main futures contract, light sweet crude for March delivery, gained $0.27 to $41.05 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for March delivery was up $0.31 to $44.39.

Resolution of the contract dispute involving US oil industry workers "helped to calm the market down considerably," said Dave Ernsberger, senior Asia editorial director of Platts, a global energy information provider.

While the US strike threat passed, wildcat action against foreign workers continued at an oil refinery and other sites in Britain.

Ernsberger said this week's cold snap and snow in Britain and Western Europe was not having a significant impact on oil prices.

"Cold weather is certainly bullish, but it will need to continue for at least one to two more weeks to have any impact on the enormous stockpiles in the market," he said.

Phil Flynn, of Alaron Trading, said oil demand was still falling despite production cuts by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel.

Further insight into the state of demand was to come later Wednesday with the US energy department's weekly report on crude stockpiles.