Oil prices advance before key Syria meeting
Global oil prices inched higher on Thursday as the United States and Russia discussed a plan to remove Syria's chemical weapons.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October rose 81 cents to stand at $112.31 a barrel in London late morning deals.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for October, added 74 cents to $108.30 a barrel.
"Oil prices have risen back above the $112-per-barrel mark ... with the threat of military action against Syria continuing to support prices," said energy trader Gary Hornby at British-based consultancy Inenco.
"With the US and Russia continuing to differ over the resolution of the Syrian conflict, and the chemical weapons hand-over still uncertain, there remains a large risk premium at present."
Investors are hoping Washington and Moscow will reach a deal that will see Syria hand over its chemical weapons and avert an attack by American forces.
US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to meet his Russian counterpart in Geneva as the two sides seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis, sparked by the Syrian regime's alleged use of chemical weapons on its own civilians.
Ahead of the meeting, Washington called Thursday on the Syrian regime to quickly declare the scope and size of its chemical weapons stockpile.
Hornby added: "With a huge amount of uncertainty at the moment, market participants may well be awaiting the outcome of the meeting ... as well as the UN Security Council in New York for further direction."
Across in Paris on Thursday, the International Energy Agency maintained its forecast for world oil demand growth this year, but raised it slightly for 2014.
The energy watchdog added that rising output should help cushion oil markets seized by tension over a possible conflict in the Middle East.
Brent crude had surged late last month to $117.34, last seen in late February, on fears over Syria conflict that could hamper oil supplies in the Middle East.
Prices have since retreated on hopes of a diplomatic resolution to the standoff.
"While the geopolitical storms in the Middle East and North Africa have yet to pass, easing fundamentals look set to lessen the pressure somewhat on market participants - at least for the next few months," the IEA said in its monthly report.
"Global crude supply -- notwithstanding the Libyan problems -- looks set for an upward jump in 4Q13, thanks to a heady mix of seasonal, cyclical, political and structural factors."
The IEA is the energy and oil strategic reserve monitoring arm of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which groups advanced economies.
© 2013 AFP