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Oil Updates — US crude below $95; Libya to increase oil production; Drillers add more oil and gas rigs; EU considering Nigerian gas options

RIYADH: US crude prices settled below $95 a barrel for the first time since April in choppy trading on Friday after the EU said it would allow Russian state-owned companies to ship oil to third countries under an adjustment of sanctions agreed by member states this week.

US West Texas Intermediate crude settled $1.65, or 1.7 percent, lower at $94.70 a barrel, while Brent crude futures fell 66 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $103.20.

WTI closed lower for the third straight week, pummelled over the past two sessions after data showed that US gasoline demand had dropped nearly 8 percent from a year earlier in the midst of the peak summer driving season, hit by record prices at the pump.

Libya to increase oil production to 1.2 million bpd in two weeks  

Libya’s National Oil Corporation aims to bring back production to 1.2 million barrels per day in two weeks, NOC said in a statement early on Saturday.

Current oil production is at 860,000 bpd, compared with 560,000 bpd before resuming production, NOC added.

Libya’s crude production had resumed at several oilfields, after lifting force majeure on oil exports last week.

A blockade of oil output by groups aligned with eastern commander Khalifa Haftar had cut off funding to the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity led by Prime Minister Abdulhamid Al-Dbeibah.

But last week Dbeibah appointed a new state oil company chief, said to be an ally of Haftar, leading to a swift end of the blockade.

“NOC is striving to increase production and bring it back to its normal rates of 1.2 million barrels per day in two weeks,” according to the statement.

The Libyan oil ministry had said earlier that production is at more than 800,000 bpd and will reach 1.2 million bpd by next month.

The country’s oil exports at times last year reached 1.2 million bpd.

US drillers add oil and gas rigs for third week in a row

The US oil and natural gas rig count this week rose for a third week in a row as high prices encourage increased spending at the wellpad, boosting demand for some oilfield services companies.

The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose two to 758 in the week to July 22, its highest since March 2020, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co. said in its closely followed report on Friday.

US oil rigs were steady at 599 this week, while gas rigs rose two to 155.

EU looks to replace gas from Russia with Nigerian supplies

The EU is seeking additional gas supplies from Nigeria as the bloc prepares for potential Russian supply cuts, Matthew Baldwin, deputy director general of the European Commission’s energy department, said on Saturday.

Baldwin was speaking in Nigeria where he held meetings with officials from Africa’s largest oil producer this week.

He was told that Nigeria was improving security in the Niger Delta and planned to re-open the Trans Niger pipeline after August, which would yield more gas exports to Europe.

The EU imports 14 percent of its total LNG supplies from Nigeria and there is potential to more than double this, Baldwin told Reuters by phone.

Oil and gas output in Nigeria is being throttled by theft and vandalism of pipelines, leaving gas producer Nigeria LNG Ltd’s terminal at Bonny Island operating at 60 percent capacity.

“If we can get up to beyond 80 percent, at that point, there might be additional LNG that could be available for spot cargoes to come to Europe,” Baldwin said.

(With input from Reuters)

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