UPDATE 5-Oil tumbles on long liquidation, fears of Fed easing
* China July crude imports hit record high of 6.15 mln bpd
* North Sea crude exports to rise in September
* Worker protests spread in Libya, reduce oil output
* U.S. crude inventories down 1.3 mln bbls last week -EIA
(Recasts lead, writes through top. Changes byline/dateline to New York, previous London.)
NEW YORK, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Crude oil prices on both sides of the Atlantic dropped sharply on Thursday, falling for the fifth straight session as traders liquidated long positions in the face of rising North Sea supplies and the potential for the U.S. Federal Reserve to roll back its monetary stimulus program.
U.S. RBOB gasoline futures tumbled to a one-month low, at $2.81 per gallon, also pressuring the rest of the oil complex lower.
"If you are looking for a reason that the complex is under pressure, the biggest culprit is the RBOB contract and if you project that into the crack (spread) you can see that it is falling faster that crude," said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho Securities USA, in New York City.
The crack spread is the price differential between oil and the products it yields.
Front-month Brent crude oil was trading $1.57 per barrel lower to $105.87 by 10:47 a.m. EDT (1447 GMT), having reached an earlier high of $107.86. U.S. crude was down $2.04 at $102.32.
NORTH SEA SUPPLY/U.S. DATA
The market brushed off news that imports of crude oil into China, the world's second-largest oil consumer, hit a record high.
Exports from the North Sea are scheduled to rise in September following maintenance. The higher expected supply of oil from the UK countered bullish news from China.
"The North Sea is one of the main drivers today ... the increasing supplies are having an effect," said Bjarne Schieldrop, an analyst at SEB.
Further decreases in crude stockpiles in top consumer the United States also had little positive effect. Inventories declined by 1.32 million barrels last week, according to the Energy Information Administration.
While U.S. jobless claims rose slightly last week, they were near their lowest level since before the financial crisis.
Oil market participants are also concerned that if the U.S. Federal Reserve rolls back its monetary stimulus - which could happen next month - liquidity on global markets will be reduced.
"I think that some of the factors that drove us to 1 and 1/2 year highs are retreating, and that we are back to Fed-watching," said Gene McGillian, an analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
IRAN SOFTENS, LIBYA WEIGHS
Iran's new president signalled willingness to negotiate with the West over Tehran's disputed nuclear program.
Tightening supplies in major producers Iraq and Libya kept losses in check.
In Libya, workers' protests remain a key concern. Output of its main crude oil grade, Es Sider, has been shut since Tuesday, along with the fields producing Amna and Sirtica, following strikes at the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf terminals.
Libya's production is expected to fall further as workers at its Arabian Gulf Oil Company (AGOCO) plan to progressively reduce output in protest over management changes and the company's structure.
Also contributing to lower supply is Iraq, where exports are set to fall sharply in September as major work is carried out at its vital southern export terminals.
In Yemen, the government said on Wednesday it had foiled a plot by al Qaeda to seize two major oil and gas export terminals and a provincial capital in the east of the country.
(Additional reporting by Peg Mackey in London, Florence Tan in Singapore and Robert Gibbons and Nicolas Medina Mora Perez in New York.; editing by James Jukwey and Gunna Dickson)