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US oil ends at 8 month low; supply, demand factors weigh

Crude slid on Thursday, with U.S. oil ending at an 8-month low after news that production was restarting at a key North Sea oilfield, and as the market weighed Libya's resolve to get oil exports on track.

Brent crude oil rose to more than $108 a barrel early in the session, prompted by supply concerns after Nexen reported an outage at the North Sea Buzzard oilfield, the largest Forties crude blend producing field. Forties is the most important of the North Sea crudes underpinning the Brent benchmark. Prices retreated after Nexen said it was in the process of restarting production and expected output to return to normal levels.

Libya is now producing around 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil, of which 510,000 bpd is being exported. This is up from below 100,000 barrels per day of exports late last year but still around half of exports before protests throttled Libya's output.

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Analysts said expectations that exports would quickly rise back towards the 1.4 million barrels per day seen before strikes at oilfields began last July had evaporated due to escalating tensions between the Tripoli government and an armed group controlling three eastern oil ports.

U.S. oil fell by 61 cents to settle at $91.66, its lowest since May 1, 2013. The contract extended Wednesday's losses, as a large build in crude stockpiles at the contract's delivery point in Cushing, Oklahoma, weighed on the market.

Brent crude for February slid by nearly $1 to near $106 per barrel.

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