Oil traded near $49 a barrel as Libyan output and exports declined amid security threats and tension among port workers.
Futures were little changed in New York after Friday’s 0.5 percent gain. Libya’s biggest oil field cut output by more than 30 percent, a person familiar with the matter said Sunday, while the head of a union said loadings at Zueitina port ceased after employees demanded better working conditions. U.S. drillers added three crude rigs last week, according to Baker Hughes Inc.
Oil fluctuated below $50 a barrel last week as investors weighed rising global supply against output curbs from members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies. The International Energy Agency reduced estimates for the amount of crude needed from OPEC through 2018 after lowering its assessments of consumption in some emerging nations.
“It looks as though the market has a watching brief on the situation in Libya, given there is no significant rally,” said Ric Spooner, an analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. “This may be something that can be resolved quickly. Oil seems to have found an equilibrium point and as long as we continue to see U.S. inventories decline, it may be content to hold around here.”
West Texas Intermediate for September delivery was at $48.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 5 cents, at 1:30 p.m. in Hong Kong. Total volume traded was about 38 percent below the 100-day average. Prices rose 23 cents to $48.82 on Friday, trimming the weekly loss to 1.5 percent.
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Brent for October settlement fell 9 cents to $52.01 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices slid by 0.6 percent last week. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $3.10 to October WTI.
OPEC last month pumped the most crude this year as supply from Libya, which is exempt from an output-cut deal aimed at shrinking a market glut, rebounded to about 1 million barrels a day. Production from the nation’s Sharara field was down to 200,000 barrels a day on Sunday, compared with 300,000 barrels a day about a week ago, according to the person familiar.
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