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The New York Times: Crude Oil Prices Flat in Asian Trading

EXTRACTS: Elsewhere, Nigerian oil unions prepared to begin a three-day strike Wednesday to protest growing insecurity in the oil-rich Niger Delta, where dozens of attacks and kidnappings have been responsible for helping pushing crude prices higher.

As many as 20,000 oil unionists will protest the killing of a Royal Dutch Shell employee three weeks ago and comes a day after the death of a Chevron-affliated employee, attacked by gunmen aboard a boat. Nigeria is the fifth largest supplier of crude to the United States.

THE ARTICLE
               
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: September 13, 2006
Filed at 1:48 a.m. ET

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Oil prices were flat Thursday — a day after plunging 3 percent — as market players awaited U.S. inventory data likely to show falls in crude stocks in the world’s largest energy consumer.

Benchmark crude oil prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange slipped 2 cents to $63.74 a barrel for the October contract in after-hours trade in Asia. The contract fell $1.85 to settle at $63.76 a barrel in Tuesday’s floor trade, the lowest front-month closing price since March 22.

Prices fell after Paris-based International Energy Agency lowered its expectations of global oil demand growth for this year and next, citing economic weakness in Europe and parts of Asia.

U.S. oil stockpile data was due out later Wednesday, another market mover.

Before the U.S. data is released, ”people are not likely to take fresh positions,” said Tokyo-based Mitsui Bussan Futures trader Tetsu Emori. Emori said any bearish news could give the market its next nudge toward the psychologically important $60 a barrel mark.

A Dow Jones Newswires poll of analysts says commercially-available crude oil inventories are likely to fall, while distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel, could rise when data is released mid-week.

On Tuesday, the International Energy Agency lowered its expectations of global oil demand growth for this year and next, citing economic weakness in Europe and parts of Asia. ”There is a broad consensus that the risks to growth are increasing,” the report said.

The agency cut 100,000 barrels a day from its earlier growth projections for 2006, matching a reduced forecast by the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration.

Crude prices reached an intraday record of $78.40 in July but has fallen on an ease in global demand and in supply threats.

In other Nymex prices, natural gas futures fell two cents to $5.545 per 1,000 cubic feet, October heating oil prices rose a tad to $1.7610 a gallon while gasoline traded largely flat at $1.5580 a gallon.

Elsewhere, Nigerian oil unions prepared to begin a three-day strike Wednesday to protest growing insecurity in the oil-rich Niger Delta, where dozens of attacks and kidnappings have been responsible for helping pushing crude prices higher.

As many as 20,000 oil unionists will protest the killing of a Royal Dutch Shell employee three weeks ago and comes a day after the death of a Chevron-affliated employee, attacked by gunmen aboard a boat. Nigeria is the fifth largest supplier of crude to the United States.

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