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Brent crude futures steadied today, as continuing unrest in the OPEC member nation Libya is maintaining the balance between demand and supply.

Brent gained by nine cents to settle at $106.32, while US oil increased by ten cents to hit $94.72 a barrel, reported Reuters.

The Libyan oil crisis deepened as heavy shooting erupted in the capital city Tripoli on 5 November, in the wake of the creation of a new regional government by leaders of the East Libya autonomy movement.

The country’s crude oil production had already witnessed a ten percent decrease in its capacity of 1.25 million barrels a day, due to recent protests and strikes at ports and oil fields.

The attacks are a blow to efforts by the government to reopen eastern oil ports and fields that were blocked since the summer by militias and tribes demanding a greater share of power and oil wealth.

Traders are now waiting for the US jobs and GDP data, which are due later this week, to gauge when the Federal Reserve may start trimming its monetary stimulus package.

Any cutback in the package would result in the reduction of the supply of dollars; boost the currency and make dollar-denominated assets, such as oil, more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Comments by top Fed officials overnight hinted there will be no imminent cutback in the stimulus. Oil prices were also pressurised by the expectations of increased US crude stockpiles.

Weekly inventory reports from industry group American Petroleum Institute (API) and US Energy Information Administration (EIA) are expected to show an increase of 1.8 million barrels in crude stocks, according to a Reuters survey.


Image: Libyan unrest helped curb losses. Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

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