) -- Oil prices slipped slightly but stayed above $72 a day after settling in higher territory.

The front-month contract for light, sweet crude fell 23 cents Thursday to $72.28 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday, the same contract for October delivery settled at $72.51 after adding another $1.58.

On Wednesday, the Energy Department said crude inventories fell by a larger-than-expected

4.7 million barrels last week. Still, distillate fuel supplies surged by 2.2 million barrels and gasoline stocks grew by 500,000.

By the closing bell Wednesday, all of the major oil shares finished higher. Shares of

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report



(CVX) - Get Report



(COP) - Get Report

rose by 1.2%, 1.1% and 1%, respectively.

Shares of


(HES) - Get Report

put on $2.13 to close at $56.44, while

Marathon Oil

(MRO) - Get Report

changed hands at $33.85 at the closing bell, up 91 cents.

The biggest major winner in the energy realm, though, appeared to be

Anadarko Petroleum

(APC) - Get Report

, which tracked higher by 9.6% after announcing Wednesday the discovery of a

big oil find off the coast of West Africa.

-- Written by Sung Moss in New York

Follow on


and become a fan on


Copyright 2009 Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.