* U.S. crude stocks fell 1.8 mln barrels last week - EIA
* Cushing stocks down 1.4 million barrels - EIA
* Libyan rebels occupying ports refuse to deal with new PM
* Putin calls for separatists to postpone referendum
(Rewrites first paragraph, adds settlement prices, analyst
By Elizabeth Dilts
NEW YORK, May 7 Global oil prices rose by more
than $1 a barrel on both sides of the Atlantic on Wednesday as
an unexpected drop in United States inventories supported U.S.
crude and escalating tensions in Libya pushed Brent higher.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said U.S. crude
inventories fell 1.8 million barrels last week, compared with
analyst' forecasts for a 1.4-million-barrel build. Stocks fell
1.4 million barrels at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point of
the U.S. futures contract, to their lowest since 2008.
Libyan rebels occupying oil ports in the east of the country
said they would not deal with new Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq,
despite an agreement with Maiteeq's predecessor last month to
reopen four ports.
Protests at Libya's major oilfields and ports have decimated
its oil production to just over 250,000 barrels per day from
around 1.4 million bpd in mid-2013 and slowed exports to a
U.S. crude settled $1.27 higher at $100.77 a barrel.
Brent crude settled up $1.07 at $108.13 a barrel.
Also supportive for global oil prices, U.S. gasoline
settled more than 3 cents higher at $2.9182 a gallon.
"There are underlying bullish factors here," said Carl
Larry, chief executive of consultancy Oil Outlooks.
"(Seasonally) refiners are at that turning point where we're out
of maintenance and coming back to refinery production."
Brent was pressured after Russian President Vladimir Putin
said he was ready to discuss a way out of the Ukrainian crisis
and called on separatists in east Ukraine to postpone a May 11
referendum on the status of the mostly Russian-speaking region.
He spoke after talks with the head of the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe, who said the security and
rights body would soon propose a "road map" to defuse the
While gas and oil supplies have not been significantly
disrupted by the Ukraine situation, traders and analysts say the
risk remains that the United States and European Union could
target the Russian energy industry with sanctions, or Moscow
could choose to restrict exports.
"If President Putin is serious about defusing the Ukraine
crisis, oil prices should come under considerable pressure, as
the security premium has been inflated over the situation and
the supply that hangs in the balance," said John Kilduff, a
partner at Again Capital in New York.
"Unfortunately, recent history suggests that is another
round of wishful, if not un-serious, rhetoric, with no real
change in Russia's position afoot."
European governments reached a preliminary agreement that
would make it easier for the EU to target Russian companies with
sanctions as a method of pressuring Russia over Ukraine.
Unrest also hit oil infrastructure in Yemen where assailants
blew up its main oil export pipeline, halting crude
(Additional reporting by Robert Gibbons and Anna Louie Sussman
in New York, David Sheppard and Julia Fioretti in London, and
Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen in Singapore; Editing by William Hardy
and Marguerita Choy)