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Oil prices fall but supply tight with focus on outages

* Global supply tight with focus on output losses

* Mixed supply signals as Norwegian workers step up strike

* Production problems in Libya

* Trump, Putin set to meet in Helsinki (Updates detail, prices, comment; paragraphs 2, 6-7)

By Christopher Johnson

LONDON, July 16 (Reuters) - Oil prices slipped on Monday as concerns about supply disruptions eased and Libyan ports reopened while traders eyed potential supply increases by Russia and other oil producers.

Brent crude fell $1.49 to a low of $73.84 before recovering a little to trade around $74.00, down $1.33, by 1030 GMT. U.S. light crude was down $1.15 at $69.86.

Supply outages in Libya, a labour dispute in Norway and unrest in Iraq all helped push oil prices higher late last week, although prices still fell for a second straight week.

Russia and other oil producers could raise output by 1 million barrels per day (bpd) or more if shortages hit the market, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters on Friday.

"If we need more than 1 million bpd, I don't rule out that we can quickly discuss it and make a quick decision," he said.

Commerzbank commodities analyst Carsten Fritsch said the outlook for supply was unclear with news of disruptions from several oil producers, but Saudi Arabia and Russia had reminded the market of their determination to pump more oil if needed.

"Novak's comments indicate that Russia and Saudi Arabia could raise production fast if needed," Fritsch said.

Production at Libya's giant Sharara oilfield was expected to fall by at least 160,000 barrels per day (bpd) after two staff were abducted in an attack by an unknown group, the National Oil Corporation said on Saturday.

A Norwegian union for workers on offshore oil and gas drilling rigs stepped up a six-day strike on Monday that has hit oil output.

In Iraq, two protesters died on Sunday in clashes with security forces in the town of Samawa amid anger in southern cities over public services and corruption.

Demonstrations have not yet affected crude production in Basra, whose shipments account for more than 95 percent of OPEC producer Iraq's state revenue. But any disruption could severely impact the country's economy and push up prices.

Investors are also on edge over the impact of the trade dispute between the United States and its big trading partners.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin were set to hold their first stand-alone meeting in Helsinki on Monday. Trump has been vocal about his dissatisfaction with higher oil prices, asking OPEC to lower prices.

Stephen Innes at brokerage OANDA said U.S.-China trade tensions "should subside this week and could be a possible plus for oil prices," but a possible sale of U.S. oil reserves would hurt prices.

The United States holds a reserve of about 660 million barrels, and the Trump administration was considering drawing on the country's oil reserve, which would increase supply, according to a Bloomberg report. (Reporting by Jane Chung in Seoul and Christopher Johnson in London; editing by Jason Neely and Susan Fenton)

First Published: 2018-07-16 03:02:03
Updated 2018-07-16 12:38:35


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