Oil prices were little changed on Monday, as traders weighed renewed violence in Libya and uncertainty over nuclear talks with Iran against broader signs of a global market well-supplied with crude.
North Sea benchmark Brent closed at its lowest in three months last week as easing tensions in Libya and Iraq mitigated fears of supply disruptions. But Brent prices perked up a bit on Monday as violence flared anew.
In Libya, fighting broke out between rival militias vying for control of the main airport on Sunday, killing at least seven people in the worst violence in the capital for six months. Meanwhile, protesters have shut down production at the eastern Libyan oil port of Brega, state firm National Oil Corp (NOC) said on Saturday. No timetable was disclosed for resuming operations at the 43,000-barrel-per-day facility.
Oil prices spiked to a nine-month high last month as an Islamist insurgency swept across Iraq. Crude futures have since pared gains, however, falling for three consecutive weeks as Iraq's main oil-producing centers in the south have remained unaffected and as Lybia restored oil production in key facilities.
Libya's oil output has risen to 470,000 barrels and could increase further to its full capacity of more than 1 million bpd, government officials said.
The market also kept an eye on talks in Vienna between Iran and the big world powers over Tehran's nuclear program. Iran's oil supplies have been restricted by sanctions for several years, but an agreement among negotiators could lead to a softening, or lifting, of those limits.
--By Reuters. For more information on commodities, please click here.