Oil prices rose in New York for a second day after militants destroyed a Nigerian pipeline owned by Royal Dutch Shell, and after a further decline in US stockpiles.

Crude oil for July 2009 delivery increased as much as $0.55, or 0.8%, to $71.58 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was traded at $71.14 a barrel at 11.17am Singapore time.

On 17 June a key supply pipeline at Shell’s Forcados terminal was blasted using high explosives, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) said.

The US Energy Department said that the country’s oil stockpiles dropped a more-than-projected 3.87 million barrels to 357.7 million last week as gasoline supplies rose.

The statement from MEND spokesman Jomo Gbomo said that a delivery line that carries crude oil from the Tunu, Opukusu and Ugbotubu flow stations in Bayelsa state was blasted by Militants.

“Shell should take a cue from Chevron and vacate the Niger Delta region to avoid collateral damage to their investment and death to staff,” the statement said.

Gasoline inventories increased 3.39 million barrels to 205 million last week, the biggest gain since January 2009. Gasoline use rose 213,000 barrels a day to 9.35 million.

The Energy Department said that crude oil supplies were at 357.7 million barrels. Supplies of distillate fuel, a category that comprises heating oil and diesel, increased 308,000 barrels to 150 million.

The report also showed that refineries operated at 85.9% of capacity, up 0.1% from the previous week. Gasoline production has risen by 2% to 9.13 million barrels a day, according to the report.

Imports of crude oil increased 0.8% to 9.04 million barrels a day last week. That’s down from 10.3 million barrels during the period a year ago. Gasoline imports increased 25% to 1.09 million barrels a day, the highest since April 2009, said the report.

Brent crude for August 2009 settlement was traded at $70.80 a barrel, down $0.05, on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange at 11.08am Singapore time. The contract increased $0.61, or 0.9%, on 17 June, ending the session at $70.85 a barrel.