Oil prices slide as confusion over Libyan production reigns

Oil prices fell on August 23, weighed down by concerns about rising production from Libya feeding into an oversupplied market and a surprise increase in USA gasoline inventories.

The price for October futures of Brent oil has decreased by 0.37 percent to $51.68 per barrel as of 06:54 (UTC + 4).

WTI light sweet crude oil was up 47 cents at USD48.20 a barrel.

Traders had expected a crude oil inventory draw of 3.5 million barrels, a Reuters poll revealed, with gasoline stockpiles seen to have shrunk by 600,000 barrels.

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The latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) data recorded an inventory draw of 3.3 million barrels for the week ending August 18th following a draw of 8.95 million barrels the previous week.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers including Russian Federation have pledged to hold back around 1.8 million bpd of output between January this year and March 2018 in order to tighten supplies and highten prices.

Oil prices edged lower on Wednesday, amid speculation weekly supply data due later in the session will show a gain in US gasoline inventories despite the peak summer driving season. Libya is exempt from the OPEC arrangement because of national security issues, and fits and starts from the North African producer can have a big impact on the crude oil market.

At the height of its oil production boom in 2008, Libya was pumping over 1.78 million barrels of crude on a daily basis.

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A slowdown in USA shale industry has helped the global market recover from this year's low of $42 a barrel. In recent weeks crude prices have been oscillating between $45 and $50 a barrel, which is 14% lower than the highest price this year. After Muammar Al Qaddafi was toppled in 2011, oil production and exports fell drastically.

Crude prices have been helped higher by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (Opec) deal with non-members to cut production by 1.8m barrels per day until March 2018 in an effort to rebalance the market.

USA crude inventories were expected to have fallen 3.5 million barrels last week, the eighth straight weekly drawdown, and gasoline to have drawn down by over 600,000 barrels, a Reuters poll showed, ahead of weekly data. US oil rigs in operation fell last week to a seven-week low. US exports, which fluctuate on a weekly basis, rose to 936,000 bpd from 877,00 bpd the previous week. The API reported an unexpected 1.4 million barrel increase in gasoline stockpiles, however.

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