U.S. oil prices strengthened Wednesday as traders shifted their attention from the Alaska spill to an OPEC meeting and an industry report of a drop in U.S. oil supplies.
West Texas Intermediate, the benchmark U.S. crude for immediate delivery, climbed 29 cents to close at $20.20 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Unleaded gasoline gained 1.50 cent to 60.18 cents a gallon on the Merc. Home-heating oil, with the arrival of warm weather in the northeast, lost 0.42 cent to 54.62 cents a gallon after an initial rise in early trading on the Merc.
Gas prices are rising because new Environmental Protection Agency standards are increasing the cost of refining gasoline, said Randall Rothenberg, an analyst with Dean Witter Reynolds in New York. “It’s gasoline leading the way” on price increases, he said.
In U.S. Gulf Coast spot trading, where oil is sold to the highest bidder, WTI gained 10 cents to close at $20.00 a barrel.