Oil prices edge lower as rebound in Libyan production weighs

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SEOUL (April 4): Oil prices edged lower in early Asian trading on Tuesday as a rebound in Libyan production put pressure on the market, along with a rise in US drilling rig capacity that signals potential for increased supply.

International Brent crude futures were trading down 3 US cents at US$53.09 a barrel at 0141 GMT from the previous session.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices was down 1 US cents to US$50.23 a barrel.

"Crude oil prices fell as increased drilling in the United States and a rebound in Libyan output weighed on investor sentiment," said ANZ bank in a note.

Libya's crude output increased on Monday after state-owned National Oil Corp (NOC) lifted force majeure on loadings of Sharara crude oil from the Zawiya terminal in the west of the country, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Meanwhile US drillers added the most rigs in a quarter since the second quarter of 2011, data from energy services company Baker Hughes showed on Friday, extending a 10-month drilling recovery.

Adding to Libya's oil production recovery, Iran's exports of crude oil and gas condensate hit a record 3.05 million barrels per day (bpd) by March 20, the end of the Iranian month of Esfand, according to a report by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

The oil market continues to await signs of a tightening market as concerns over OPEC production cut compliance, designed to erode a global crude oil glut, and high US oil output linger.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and non-OPEC members including Russia, agreed late last year to cut output by almost 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in the first half of 2017. The market's focus has now shifted whether the major oil producers will extend the cuts.