UPDATE 8-Oil rises on North Sea closure, U.S. stocks drop
* U.S. crude stocks drop, against estimates of rise
* TAQA says no date for North Sea platform restart
* European car sales slump to lowest since 1995
* World Bank cuts growth outlook as advanced nations drag
LONDON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Crude oil edged up towards $111 a barrel on Wednesday, supported by the closure of the Brent pipeline system in the North Sea and an unexpected drop in U.S. crude oil stocks.
Gains were limited as weak European data pushed down other risk-sensitive assets such as equities, and as OPEC released a downbeat assessment of demand for its oil output in 2013.
Benchmark Brent crude oil futures for February were up 30 cents at $110.60 a barrel by 1555 GMT. The February contract, which expires later in the day, settled $1.58 lower in the previous session, while the more heavily traded March contract ended down $1.32.
U.S. oil rose 60 cents to $93.88 a barrel.
The Energy Information Administration said U.S. crude stocks fell last week by 951,000 barrels. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected inventories for the week ended Jan. 11 to grow by 2.3 million barrels.
"The report is somewhat supportive due to the fact that crude oil inventories declined and refined product increases came in below expectations," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.
The Brent pipeline system, which with oil from other fields in the British North Sea underlies the futures contract, was shut as a result of the closure of the Cormorant Alpha oil platform, affecting as much as 90,000 barrels per day.
Abu Dhabi oil company TAQA said it had no restart date for oil output stopped after a leak at the platform, linked into Britain's 20-field Brent system.
"Pipeline outages in the North Sea have been putting (upward) pressure on Brent prices. Brent supply has been pretty unreliable over the past year and these interruptions have led to high price volatility," Jason Gammel, a commodities analyst at Macquarie, said.
Geopolitical factors were also supportive of oil prices. In Algeria, Islamist militants kidnapped at least seven foreigners and killed a French national, creating worries about potential supply disruption.
Further support was offered by data showing U.S. industrial output rose in December and motor vehicle assembly picked up, suggesting the manufacturing sector continues to expand at a moderate pace.
In Europe, however, demand for new cars fell in December to the lowest level since 1995, registrations data showed, adding to figures the previous day showing Germany's economy shrank at the fastest pace in almost three years in the final quarter of 2012.
OPEC also said it expected demand for its crude this year to be lower than initially thought because of higher supply from rival producers, indicating inventories could build up substantially even after a cut in output by top exporter Saudi Arabia.
The World Bank on Tuesday sharply cut its forecast for 2013 global gross domestic product growth from 3.0 percent to 2.4 percent, which compared with 2.3 percent last year, weighed down by a sluggish recovery of developed countries.
"The World Bank downgrade was a bit of a surprise and led to a bias in equity markets. Oil could turn lower later in the day," Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets, said.
Investors looked ahead to China's GDP numbers due on Friday, which are expected to show its annual economic growth quickened to 7.8 percent in the fourth quarter, according to a Reuters poll, snapping seven straight quarters of weaker expansion.
"A return of Chinese demand is bound to boost the oil markets," Gammel at Macquarie said.