LONDON: Brent crude eased toward $110 a barrel Wednesday on reports that some Libyan oil exports might soon resume, although losses were checked by declines in fuel stocks in top consumer the United States.
About half of Libya’s more than 1.2 million barrels per day of crude oil export capacity is out of action due to strikes and civil unrest, but officials have said some ports have reopened and more shipments could restart within days.
Brent futures for October were off 10 cents at $110.05 a barrel. U.S. October oil was 33 cents lower at $104.78 a barrel. The September U.S. crude contract expired Tuesday, closing down 2 percent at $104.96, its largest one-day loss in two months.
The situation in Libya is volatile with conflicting reports of port activity and varying estimates of oil exports.
The head of Libya’s Petroleum Facilities Guard said Tuesday striking workers at a key oil port fired on civilians and injured at least one person. Independent confirmation of the shooting was not immediately available.
Investors also kept a wary eye on the U.S. Federal Reserve, which has said it will gradually ease back on monetary stimulus that has pumped trillions of dollars into asset markets, helping boost oil prices over the last few years.
“A lot of money has come out of the market because of uncertainty over the Fed’s stimulus policy, so expect to see range-bound trading,” said Carl Larry, president of Houston-based consultancy Oil Outlooks and Opinions.
The political crisis in Egypt also stoked supply worries.
Egypt is home to the Suez Canal and the Sumed pipeline, which together carry around 4.5 million bpd of oil between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. The Egyptian army has said it will guarantee the safety of the canal and pipeline but any disruption could have a major impact on oil prices.