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Oil at $60 per Barrel, Libya Fire Supports

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

December 29, 2014

Brent on track for biggest annual drop since 2008; stimulus measures from Japan, China lend some support.

Brent crude oil rose to $60 per barrel on Monday, supported by concerns about disruption to exports from Libya, but a global supply glut kept prices nearly 50 percent off their peak for the year.

A fire at one of Libya's main export terminals has destroyed 800,000 barrels of crude - more than two days of the country's output - officials said, as clashes escalated between factions battling for control of the nation..

Libya currently produces around 385,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil - down from peak production of over 1 million bpd - but this is a small fraction of the global supply glut, analysts said.

"There's tension in Libya, but liquidity is very thin so not much is needed to move oil prices," said Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN Amro in Amsterdam.

Trade was sparse, with many investors away for the festive period.

Van Cleef added that the overall picture remained bearish, with traders looking for reasons to sell.

"It's very supply driven, on the demand side, the only impact is when you see a negative change in data."

Brent crude was up 65 cents at $60.10 by 1128 GMT after hitting $60.40 earlier in the day. The benchmark settled down 79 cents in the previous session.

Brent is down 48 percent since hitting the year's high above $115 per barrel in June, weighed down by a decision by OPEC in November not to cut supply to address the slump in prices and comments from Saudi Arabia that they are comfortable with lower prices.

It is down 45 percent so far this year, on track for its biggest fall since 2008, and the second-biggest annual fall since futures started trading in the 1980s.

U.S. crude rose 66 cents to $55.39 after closing $1.11 down in thin trade on Friday. It rose to a peak of $55.74 in early trade on Monday.

Oil prices also drew support from plans by China and Japan aimed at supporting their economies, which would help lift demand for commodities.

The People's Bank of China plans to loosen loan-to-deposit ratios for banks from next year. China's economy is expected to grow by 7 percent in 2015, slower than the forecast 7.3 percent in 2014, a government think-tank, the State Information Centre said on Monday.

Japan's government approved on Saturday stimulus spending worth $29 billion to help the country's lagging regions and households with subsidies, merchandise vouchers and other steps, which it hopes will boost GDP by 0.7 percent.


By Simon Falush

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