UPDATE 7-Oil rises on supply concerns, gasoline prices leap
* Gasoline futures up 15 pct since start of July
* Refinery capacity down as fuel demand picks up
* Analyst cites "panic buying" by gasoline wholesalers
(Recasts throughout,updates prices, changes byline, dateline (pvs LONDON)
NEW YORK, July 12 (Reuters) - Oil rose on Friday, led by the biggest surge in gasoline futures in four months as a string of refinery outages stoked concerns about fuel supplies in the heart of the U.S. summer driving season.
"We're hearing about a lot of refining issues and this comes as oil prices came off that 15-month high," said Phil Flynn, analyst at the Price Futures Group in Chicago.
"Put it all together and I think you're seeing some panic buying by the wholesalers afraid they're going to run out of supply."
The refinery issues came from plants from the U.S. Gulf Coast, East Coast, Midwest, and Canada, after U.S. government data this week showed gasoline demand over the past four weeks surged 2.5 percent from a year earlier, surprising some traders.
RBOB gasoline futures jumped more than 12 cents, extending gains since the start of July to nearly 15 percent. With strong demand in recent weeks, buying picked up on news of refinery problems, many around gasoline-making units.
Front-month gasoline futures hit highs of $3.1455 per gallon at the peak, and traded up 10.62 cents to $3.1276 per gallon by 12:58 p.m. EDT (1658 GMT).
Brent crude for August gained 91 cents higher at $108.64 a barrel, while U.S. crude traded up 75 cents at $105.66.
(Additional reporting by Simon Falush in London, Florence Tan in Singapore; Editing by Matthew Robinson and David Gregorio)