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Oil price rises to all-time high

BBC News | August 1, 2007

Oil prices have climbed to a record high of $78.71 a barrel amid worries about whether oil supplies can meet global demand.

The price of a barrel of US light, sweet crude passed the previous high of $78.40 a barrel, reached in July 2006.

Prices have risen steadily in the past few weeks following disruption to output in Nigeria and the North Sea and set a new closing high on Tuesday.

The latest rise was triggered by data showing a fall in US crude stockpiles.

Falling stocks

The Department of Energy said that oil inventories had fallen by a higher-than-expected 6.5 million barrels in the week ending 27 July.

Analysts had been forecasting a far more modest fall of about 700,000 barrels.

Oil markets have withstood recent stock market turbulence, taking their lead from positive economic signs in the US about employment and consumer confidence.

Despite a rise in output from the members of the Opec oil producers' cartel last month, traders are still worried about the amount of spare capacity in the market amid robust demand and continuing instability in oil-rich Nigeria.

"The market is looking closely at the unexpected large draw in crude stocks," said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy analysts Ritterbusch and Associates.

"These numbers are enough to keep the crude rally alive."

The previous $78.40 high was recorded during the Israel-Lebanon conflict last year.

In London, Brent crude fell 15 cents to $76.90 a barrel.

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