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Brent crude rises to 1-week high on Libya delay

Brent crude rose to the highest level in more than a week amid speculation that the return of Libyan oil supply may be delayed. West Texas Intermediate advanced before a weekly report on U.S. inventories.

Brent futures added as much as 0.4 percent in London. The Libyan ports of Zueitina and Hariga, returned by rebels to the government earlier this week, will remain subject to force majeure until at least April 13, energy committee member Sliman Qajam said Wednesday from Tripoli.

Tensions between the West and Russia, the world’s largest crude producer, over Ukraine also supported prices, according to Commerzbank AG.

“The handover to regular security personnel of the two east Libyan oil terminals that were released by rebels at the beginning of the week appears to be experiencing delays,” Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research atCommerzbank AG, said in a report. “This is lending support to oil prices, as is the further escalation of the situation in East Ukraine.”

Brent for May settlement advanced as much as 40 cents to $108.07 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, the highest since March 31.

It was at $107.84 as of 12:20 p.m. local time. The European benchmark grade was at a premium of $5.14 to WTI on ICE. The spread closed at $5.11 Tuesday, the narrowest since Oct. 2

WTI for May delivery added 20 cents to $102.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The contract climbed $2.12 to $102.56 Wednesday, the highest close since March 7. The volume of all futures traded was about 4 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day.

Force majeure is a legal clause that protects a company from liability when it can’t fulfill a contract for reasons beyond its control.

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