Policy: Environment & Energy

Oil steady above $102 as Libya tensions flare

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News,Business,Energy and Environment,Libya,Oil

The price of oil was steady above $102 a barrel Tuesday as the threat of further violence in Libya threw into question the country's ability to ramp up its crude exports.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for June delivery was up 3 cents to $102.64 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Monday, the Nymex contract added 12 cents to settle at $102.73.

The more heavily-traded July contract was up 2 cents at $102.13.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil, was down 4 cents to $109.33 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

A revolt by a rogue general has split the Islamists that dominate Libya's politics and risks an outright battle for power that could fragment the country, which has Africa's largest proven reserves of crude. Libya was a key supplier of crude to European refineries but has been struggling to stabilize oil output and exports since dictator Moammar Gadhafi was ousted in 2011.

"Given that Libya is not producing more than 250,000 barrels per day, having Libya totally out would not make a big difference to current flows," said Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix in Switzerland. "But the Libyan barrels will be missed for the oil demand of the third quarter."

Investors will also be monitoring fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products.

Data for the week ending May 16 is expected to show a draw of 300,000 barrels in crude oil stocks and a build of 150,000 barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

The American Petroleum Institute will release its report on oil stocks later Tuesday, while the report from the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration — the market benchmark — will be out on Wednesday.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 1.07 cents to $2.9384 a gallon.

— Natural gas added 3.1 cents to $4.501 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil lost 0.59 cent to $2.9309 a gallon.

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