Oil prices sink on US energy report
World oil prices sank Wednesday, erasing earlier gains as traders reacted to news of a sixth weekly gain in US crude inventories, adding to the global supply glut.
In London late afternoon trade, Brent North Sea crude for December slid $1.59 to stand at $48.95 per barrel.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in December shed $1.34 to $46.56 per barrel compared with Tuesday's close.
The US government's Department of Energy reported Wednesday that American commercial crude stockpiles climbed 2.8 million barrels in the week to October 30.
Market expectations had been for a gain of 2.5 million according to analysts polled by Bloomberg News.
The DoE figure tallied with data published Tuesday by the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute, which also said US crude inventories rose by 2.8 million barrels last week.
A build-up in the stockpiles indicates softer demand in the world's top oil consumer and tends to be negative for prices.
Traders also assessed news on Wednesday that shipments from a Libyan port were halted due to political tensions.
Libya's Petroleum Facilities Guard halted crude shipments from Zueitina port indefinitely due to the widening conflict between the strife-torn nation's rival governments, Bloomberg News said.
Tankers seeking to load crude at the port must register with the National Oil Corp. administration loyal to the internationally recognised government in the country's eastern region, Bloomberg quoted Petroleum Guard spokesman Ali al-Hasy as saying.
Oil prices have fallen by more than half from peaks of over $100 a barrel in June last year.
A global economic slowdown led by top energy guzzler China has led to demand not keeping pace with the crude supply glut which is expected to persist well into next year.
© 2015 AFP