Oil Hikes on Nigeria, Refinery Trouble - TheStreet

Crude prices escalated again on Tuesday on news of increased violence in Nigeria and more refinery problems in the U.S.

August light sweet crude gained 56 cents to $72.71 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Reformulated gasoline is down 2 cents at $2.36 a gallon. Heating oil edged a penny lower to $2.12 a gallon.

The near-term natural gas contract jumped 32 cents to $6.72 per million British thermal units.

A rebel group staged an attack on a construction site in Nigeria's southern delta region Tuesday morning. Although the attackers were fended off by federal troops, the activity set energy traders on edge at the start of today's trading session, according to Dennis Gartman, publisher of

The Gartman Letter

.

Also disconcerting was an announcement by

BP

(BP) - Get Report

that it is shutting down its 250,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Whiting, Ind., for unscheduled maintenance. This new refinery problem comes at a time when the U.S. is already struggling to meet the demand for refined petroleum products such as motor gasoline.

Meanwhile, energy stocks were mixed in today's session. The

CBOE Oil Index

finished fractionally higher at 796.88.

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get Report

advanced 0.2% to $84.25.

Chevron

(CVX) - Get Report

lost 0.5% to $89.04.

Delta Petroleum

( DPTR) was upgraded by AG Edwards to buy from hold, boosting the stock 2.3% to $19.64.

Dawson Geophysical

(DWSN) - Get Report

was upgraded by Matrix Research to buy from hold, sending its shares 1.1% higher to $61.15.

Sempra Energy

(SRE) - Get Report

was downgraded by RBC Capital Markets to outperform from "top pick." Shares of Sempra fell 2.4% to $59.31 in the session.