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Oil prices halt slide as turmoil in Libya threatens restoration of exports

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The price of oil paused Tuesday after tumbling last week as a deteriorating security situation in Libya raised questions over the restoration of exports following an agreement between the government and a regional militia.

Prices fell sharply last week as worries about supply disruptions from Iraq eased and on the prospect of more supplies from Libya. Weaker than expected economic data for the first half of the year prompted the International Energy Agency and other experts to trim their forecasts for short and medium term demand.

But fighting between rival militias over Tripoli International Airport and battles in the eastern city of Benghazi are casting uncertainty over plans to reopen two oil terminals that would boost the country's crude exports by about 500,000 barrels a day. Libya currently produces around 350,000 barrels of oil a day.

Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery was down 4 cents to $100.87 a barrel at 0545 GMT in electronic trading on the on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The Nymex contract gained 8 cents to $100.91 a barrel on Monday after shedding 3.1 per cent last week.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, lost 21 cents to $107.60 on the ICE exchange in London.

In other Nymex trading:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.2 cent to $2.895 a gallon.

— Natural gas slipped 1.6 cents to $4.131 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil shed 0.3 cent to $2.882 a gallon.

(TSX:ECA), (TSX:IMO), (TSX:SU), (TSX:HSE), (NYSE:BP), (NYSE:COP), (NYSE:XOM), (NYSE:CVX), (TSX:CNQ), (TSX:TLM), (TSX:COS), (TSX:CVE)

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