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Uncertainty Over Libya Export Position Buoys Oil Prices



Oil prices at the international market rose yesterday on uncertainty over Libyan oil exports, as Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC’s) plans to raise output continued to drag.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, rose to $74.95 per barrel up by 22 cents, or 0.3 percent from their last close, while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate, WTI, crude futures were at $68.33 a barrel, up 25 cents, or 0.4 percent.

Traders said prices were mostly driven higher by uncertainty around oil exports by Libya, a member of the OPEC. Eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces have handed control of oil ports to a separate National Oil Corporation (NOC) based in the East of the country.

The official state-owned oil company based in the capital Tripoli, also called NOC, will not be allowed to handle that oil anymore, he said. In comments later confirmed to Reuters, Ahmed Mismari, spokesman of Haftar’s Libya National Army (LNA), said on television that no tanker would be allowed to dock at eastern ports without permission from an NOC entity based in the main eastern city, Benghazi.

The uncertainty over Libya’s oil exports came after OPEC together with a group of non-OPEC partners including top producer OPEC announced a supply rise of around 1 million barrels per day (bpd) aimed at cooling oil markets.

Oil markets have tightened significantly since 2017, when OPEC and its partners started withholding supply to prop up slumping prices at the time. “Despite the OPEC agreement (last week) we believe that tight supply is likely to drive oil prices higher during 2018,” Jason Gammel of U.S. investment bank Jefferies said in a note. “We expect that Brent prices will be in excess of $80 per barrel in 2H18,” he added.

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