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UPDATE 3-Brent dips towards $111, supply problems limit losses

Friday, 27 Dec 2013 | 7:41 AM ET

* Libya, South Sudan supply disruptions support oil

* Strike ends at France's La Mede refinery, one plant still out

* Coming up: EIA weekly oil data; 1600 GMT

LONDON, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Brent crude oil slipped towards $111 a barrel on Friday although supply disruptions in Africa kept losses in check.

Escalating violence in South Sudan threatened to reduce its crude output further, adding to supply outages from Libya where oil production is running at a mere 250,000 barrels per day (bpd).

A mix of militias, tribesmen and political minorities, demanding a greater share of Libya's oil wealth and more political power, have shut most oilfields and ports, cutting oil output from the 1.4 million bpd in July.

Brent crude slipped 12 cents to $111.86 by 1231 GMT after settling at $111.98 on Thursday, the highest since Dec. 3. U.S. crude rose 11 cents to $99.66, having hit a more than two-month top of $99.77 earlier.

U.S. gasoline futures eased from a three-month high after workers at France's La Mede refinery lifted a two-week-old strike over pay - leaving only one refinery still striking.

"The end of the French refinery strikes is one less risk factor for the holiday period, the risk on Libya has not changed and should be already priced (in)," said Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix.

"South Sudan carries a risk of getting worse, but with about 220,000 bpd at risk it should not be enough to change the dynamics of the crude oil markets."

Rebels in South Sudan have seized some oil wells in Unity state and captured half the capital of the main oil-producing region as African leaders held talks to avert civil war.

Oil output has already fallen by nearly a fifth to 200,000 barrels per day after the Unity state oilfields were shut downearlier this week due to fighting.

Traders are now awaiting a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) to gauge supply and demand in the world's top oil-consumer.

Crude stockpiles are expected to have fallen for a fourth straight week while gasoline inventories could have risen, analysts said in a Reuters poll.

But data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed that crude stocks unexpectedly rose by 716,000 barrels last week, while gasoline inventories slumped and distillate stocks dropped.

A fall in U.S. jobless claims and stronger retail sales reinforced a more robust outlook for the world's largest economy next year.

But some analysts do not expect this to translate into stronger fuel demand due to the use of more fuel-efficient vehicles and abundant natural gas.

(Additional reporting by Florence Tan in Singapore; Editing by William Hardy)