LONDON: Brent crude fell toward $108 a barrel Friday on prospects for oil ports in eastern Libya to resume exports and a possible scaling back of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s stimulus program.
Libya’s government expects eastern tribes to reopen three oil ports this weekend, which could increase the OPEC producer’s shipments from the current 110,000 barrels per day.
“There’s a general consensus that some sort of additional oil will emerge from Libya,” said Gareth Lewis-Davies, senior energy strategist at BNP Paribas. “But there’s uncertainty on how much and ... how long it will last.”
There are doubts as to whether Libya can raise its output significantly as internal conflicts threaten its oil industry.
January Brent was down 35 cents at $108.32 a barrel, following a fall of over $1 Thursday. Brent has slipped 3 percent so far this week, the steepest weekly loss since the end of September.
U.S. crude futures for January were down 90 cents at $96.60 a barrel, after rising around $6 in the past two weeks.
The premium between Brent crude and U.S. oil – also known as West Texas Intermediate – was $11.72, down more than $5 since the start of the month.
Upbeat economic data from the United States Thursday heightened speculation that the Fed may start trimming its monthly bond purchases as soon as next week. The speculation strengthened the dollar and weighed on demand for dollar-denominated commodities such as oil.