Oil prices rise on Libya concerns

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IOL pic may14 oil barrels colourful . .

Singapore - Oil prices rose in Asia on Tuesday on growing concerns about lawlessness in crude-producer Libya as an top military unit joined a renegade general's bid to quash Islamists and edged the country closer to civil war.

The US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in June, rose two cents to $102.63 in mid-morning trade, while Brent North Sea crude for July rose eight cents to $109.45.

“Further unrest in Libya is the main factor in the oil market at the moment,” David Lennox, resource analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney, told AFP.

Colonel Wanis Abu Khamada, respected commander of an elite Libyan army unit, announced on Monday that his troops would join retired general Khalifa Haftar's operation targeting Islamist militias in Benghazi.

The Libyan interim government meanwhile has called on the country's parliament to “take a recess” amid widening lawlessness in the North African state, which is a member of the Opec oil cartel.

Since the toppling of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, successive Libyan governments have struggled to impose order as heavily armed former rebel brigades carve out their own fiefdoms.

The political crisis in the country comes just weeks after after the resumption of oil exports following a nine-month blockade of sea terminals by rebels.

Lennox said dealers are also awaiting the release late on Wednesday of the latest US stockpiles report for clues about demand in the world's top crude consumer.

US crude reserves were at 398.5 million barrels in the week to May 9, close to a record high of 399.4 million barrels in April, according to data released last week by the Department of Energy.

“Investors will be keen to see if there is any follow-through with the rise in crude and gasoline stockpiles, which could be a sign of weak demand,” Lennox said. - Sapa-AFP

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