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Brent falls $1 to below $103

Monday, August 18 09:06:26

Brent crude fell more than $1 to trade below $103 a barrel on Monday as Libya increased its oil output and as worries over supply from key producer Iraq eased.

The drop came following a spike in benchmark prices on both sides of the Atlantic on Friday amid fresh tensions in Ukraine, where government forces engaged a Russian armoured column.

Brent crude for October delivery had fallen 78 cents to $102.75 a barrel by 0654 GMT, after trading as low as $102.35. The contract closed $1.52 a barrel higher on Friday.

U.S. crude for September delivery was 64 cents lower at $96.71 a barrel, after ending the previous session up $1.77 a barrel.

Libya's oil production rose to 535,000 barrels a day (bpd) on Sunday from 400,000 bpd earlier in the week due to higher output at the southwestern El Sharara, El Feel fields, a spokesman for National Oil Corp (NOC) said.

Even though oil ports in the east have reopened, oil production in the North African state is still way off the 1.4 million barrels per day it produced last year before a series of strikes, protests and blockades slashed output to as low as 200,000 bpd.

The fighting in Iraq has yet to affect oil supplies from southern oil ports. In the north, Iraqi Kurdistan has delivered its third major cargo of crude oil, showing the autonomous region is finding more buyers despite legal pressure from Baghdad.

Brent prices have been weighed down by low demand from refineries in Europe and Asia in recent months. Refinery crude runs in Europe remain well below last year's level, even after rising in July compared with June.

"Despite the improvement in European crude runs, we continue to see deep contango and bearish price action around expiry, as the market struggles to find buyers willing to take physical delivery," analysts at Morgan Staley said in a note. (Reuters)

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