Oil prices rise on Libyan export disruption, but markets remain weak


  • Libya’s National Oil Company on Monday declared force majeure on exports from the country’s largest oilfield after it was seized by a local militia group over the weekend.
  • Despite the development, overall sentiment on oil prices remained weak.

Oil tanker

Jean-Paul Pelissier | Reuters

Oil prices edged up on Tuesday after Libya’s National Oil Company declared force majeure on exports from the El Sharara oilfield, which was seized at the weekend by a local militia group.

Despite that, overall sentiment on oil prices remained weak amid worries over global stock markets and doubts that planned supply cuts led by producer club OPEC will be enough to rein in oversupply.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $60.19 per barrel at 0336 GMT, up 19 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $51.16 per barrel, up 16 cents, or 0.3 percent.

Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC) late on Monday declared force majeure on exports from the El Sharara oilfield, the country’s biggest, which was seized at the weekend by a militia group.

NOC said the shutdown would result in a production loss of 315,000 barrels per day (bpd), and an additional loss of 73,000 bpd at the El Feel oilfield.

The rise came after crude prices dropped by 3 percent the session before amid ongoing weakness in global stock markets and concerns that slowing oil demand-growth could erode supply cuts announced last week by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and some non-OPEC producers including Russia.

Crude futures have lost around a third of their value since early October amid the financial market slump and an emerging oil supply overhang.

In a show of no confidence, money managers cut their bullish wagers on crude to the lowest in more than two years in the week ending Dec. 4, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Monday.

The financial speculator group cut its combined futures and options position in New York and London by 25,619 contracts to 144,775 during the period. That is the lowest level since Sept. 20, 2016.

In physical markets, Kuwait and Iran this week both reduced their January crude oil supply prices to Asia.

“There remains a lot of uncertainty if the production cut is thick enough to make a significant dent in global supply,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.

“The general risk-off tone in global markets and the stronger dollar … are contributing to the selling pressure.”

The OPEC-led group of oil producers last Friday announced a supply cut of 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in crude oil supply from January, measured against October 2018 output levels.