Oil price rebounds

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Singapore - Oil prices rebounded in Asian trade Monday on bargain hunting and concerns over Iraqi exports after militants bombed a major pipeline in the north of the country.

However analysts said prices still faced downward pressure due to easing demand and the return of normal Libyan oil production, set to bolster supplies.

New York's main contract West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for February delivery was up 12 cents at $94.08 in afternoon trade, while Brent North Sea crude also for February rose 15 cents to $107.04.

WTI fell $1.48 on Friday, ending the week down more than $6.

“Everyone is talking about how this year is going to be better but if you look at the data from the bigger countries like (the) US and China, they are all trickling down slightly,” said Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore.

“You have all these countries that want to increase production but the demand is stabilising or flat at best,” she told AFP.

The US Energy Information Administration's most recent report on weekly stockpiles appeared at first glance to support a price rise after commercial crude inventories fell 7.0 million barrels to 360.6 million in the world's biggest economy.

But the data also showed rises in product stockpiles such as gasoline, suggesting demand was not as strong as the fall in crude reserves implied, analysts said.

The easing of crude demand comes as Libya resumes normal production.

A spokesman for the Libyan National Oil Corporation told AFP last week that the 330,000 barrel-a-day El Sharara field is expected to resume normal output, after protesters had agreed to stop a strike.

In Iraq, militants bombed a major oil pipeline in the north Thursday, causing a fire and forcing pumping to be suspended, an official from the North Oil Company said, adding that repairs were already under way. - Sapa-AFP

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