* Investors await Fed statements on Wednesday
* Supply disruptions in Libya and elsewhere support prices
* Hedge funds up net long positions in Brent crude futures
(Updates prices, adds comments on the Fed's upcoming meeting)
By Nicolas Medina Mora Perez
LONDON, July 29 Oil prices nudged higher on
Monday as supply disruptions in Europe helped halt last week's
losses, while cautious investors waited for the results of this
week's U.S. Federal Reserve meeting.
Disruptions in Libya, Iraq, and elsewhere have removed well
over 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) of supplies from the market.
Other suppliers, such as Sudan, may see their exports reduced in
the coming weeks, analysts say. North Sea benchmark Forties
crude flows have been curbed due to maintenance.
The lost production helped bolster a market that has been
worrying about the prospects for fuel demand as a number of
economies, including China, experience slower growth.
Policymakers at the U.S. central bank will meet on Tuesday
and Wednesday to discuss monetary policy and are expected to
issue a statement Wednesday afternoon.
"It's going to be really difficult to knock the market down
before the Fed statement," said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price
Futures Group in Chicago.
"Even though fundamentals seem to show that the prices
should be lower, the Fed's promise of quantitative easing could
support the market."
Brent crude gained 24 cents to trade at $107.40 per
barrel by 11:45 EDT (1545 GMT), after slipping 0.8 percent last
week, the largest weekly decline since May. U.S. oil
inched 3 cents higher to $104.73.
Gasoline futures lagged the complex, dipping one cent
to $3.036 a gallon after tropical storm Dorian dissipated
without causing any damage to the refining industry, and North
Atlantic Refining announced that its 115,000 barrel per day Come
By Chance refinery in Newfoundland was fully back online.
Carsten Fritsch, senior oil analyst at Commerzbank in
Frankfurt, said the market appeared fairly balanced but
investors had been "taking money off the table after a strong
run-up a couple of weeks ago".
Oil exports from several suppliers have been curtailed in
recent weeks, stopping or reducing shipments from Libya, Iraq,
the North Sea and elsewhere.
The North Sea's Forties pipeline has cut pumping rates by
about 40,000 bpd because of maintenance, trade sources said,
tightening supply of the crude that underpins the Brent
Explosions rocked the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on
Sunday, prompting Marathon Oil Corp to study the sale of
its stake in Waha, a key Libyan oil consortium.
The Libyan oil minister said on Monday that operations at
the crude oil export terminals of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf
continued as normal, despite protests and strikes.
Data from the IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) showed on
Monday that large speculators increased their net long positions
in Brent crude futures in the week to July 23.
The rise in long positions continues trends from the
previous week, when hedge funds took huge positive bets on U.S.
crude just before the market turned lower. Positive wagers by
money managers on U.S. crude reached a record high for the week
ended July 23, data from the Commodity Futures Trading
Commission showed. [ID:nL1N0FW20H
(Additional reporting by Christopher Johnson in London and
Manash Goswami in Singapore; Editing by William Hardy, Dale
Hudson and Peter Galloway)