Tokyo - Oil prices were mixed in Asia on Monday as a bulge in US stockpiles indicated weak demand in the world's biggest economy, while there are growing concerns about supplies from the Middle East.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in December, was down 24 cents at $97.61 in afternoon trade, while Brent North Sea crude for December rose 20 cents to $107.13.
US prices were weighed down by a surge in stockpiles at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point for WTI futures, said Tan Chee Tat, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.
The weekly report from the US Department of Energy on Wednesday showed reserves had soared 5.2 million barrels in the week ending October 18.
That came days after a report for the prior week, delayed by the partial government shutdown, that showed another big rise in inventories.
“We are likely to see some relief in stockpiles with the seasonal maintenance in US refineries coming to an end after October,” Tan told AFP.
Investors are keeping an eye on crude producer Libya after its National Oil Corp. last week said output had stabilised at around 600,000 barrels even as authorities struggle to end armed protests that cut shipments for months.
Libyan oil exports had plunged by more than 70 percent after protesters, including policemen and border guards, forced the terminals to shut over demands for back pay.
“Uncertainties remain as the protests have not been completely resolved. Possible tightening in Libya... is likely to keep Brent crude prices supported,” Tan said. - AFP