Oil prices on Wednesday slipped away from two-and-a-half year highs, as the gradual resumption of flows through a major North Sea pipeline made up for supply disruption in Libya.
Armed assailants blew up a pipeline pumping crude oil to the port of Es Sider on Tuesday, cutting Libya’s output by up to 100,000 barrels per day (bpd), according to military and energy sources.
The state-run National Oil Corporation (NOC) said in a statement that output had been reduced by 70,000 to 100,000 bpd. The cause of the blast was unclear, it added.
The North African country’s output had been recovering in recent months after being held down for years amid armed conflict and unrest.
Brent Crude, the international benchmark for oil prices, settled at $67.02 a barrel, up by $1.77, or 2.71 percent. During the session, front-month prices touched a high of $67.10 a barrel, their highest since mid-May 2015.
U.S. Crude climbed $1.50, or 2.6 percent, to end the session at $59.97 a barrel after touching a session high of $60.01, the highest since late-June 2015.
The impending restart of Forties, a key North Sea pipeline, limited the extent of the rally. Oil and gas flows through the pipeline will be increased gradually, its operator Ineos said on Tuesday, adding that the Kinneil processing plant was partially restarted.
A major factor countering efforts by OPEC and Russia to prop up prices is U.S. oil production, which has soared more than 16 percent since mid-2016 and is fast approaching 10 million bpd.
Only OPEC king-pin Saudi Arabia and Russia produce more. The latest U.S. production figures are due to be published by the EIA on Thursday.