* Iraq exports 2.53 million bpd from southern terminals,
* Oil prices to trend lower unless U.S. takes direct action
* U.S. crude stocks seen down last week -Reuters poll
By Keith Wallis
SINGAPORE, June 24 Brent crude slipped below
$114 a barrel on Tuesday, as data showing near-record high oil
exports from Iraq indicated supplies remained unaffected by the
escalating violence at the OPEC's No. 2 producer.
Exports from Iraq's southern terminals averaged 2.53 million
barrels per day (bpd) up to June 21, according to shipping data
and Reuters sources, even as Sunni Islamist insurgents have
captured swathes of territory in northwest and central Iraq.
This compared with May's average of 2.58 million bpd - the
highest since 2003.
"The oil markets look going softer unless the Sunnis start
blowing up refineries or ports which they won't do because it
cuts off income," said Jonathan Barratt, chief executive of
Sydney commodity research firm Barratt Bulletin.
Brent crude dropped 27 cents to $113.85 by 0415 GMT,
off a nine-month top of $115.71 reached last Thursday. The
benchmark closed 0.6 percent down on Monday, it's biggest drop
since May 16, as Iraq supply worries eased.
U.S. crude fell 49 cents to $105.68 a barrel, after
falling 1 percent in the previous session, its biggest slide
since late May.
Direct U.S. intervention in the Iraq crisis, with air
strikes or other military action, could lead to a spike in oil
prices, but Barratt said he does not expect the United States to
take such tough action given Secretary of State John Kerry's
comments on Monday.
Kerry promised "intense and sustained" U.S. support for
Iraq, but said the divided country would only survive if its
leaders took urgent steps to bring it together.
President Barack Obama has offered up to 300 American
advisers to Iraq but stopped short of granting Baghdad's request
for air strikes to counter the advance by Sunni militants.
"I think oil prices should go lower unless the U.S. can be
seen as an aggravator," Barratt added.
U.S. oil prices, however, could draw support from forecasts
for a drop in crude inventories last week.
A Reuters survey forecast U.S. crude stocks fell 1.3 million
barrels on average last week, while product stockpiles rose.
Industry group the American Petroleum Institute will release
its weekly data later in the day followed by the U.S. Department
of Energy's Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.
Investors are also keeping an eye on other geopolitical
events, such as the impact on oil and energy prices from a
potential peace deal between Ukraine and pro-Russian
Leaders in two main rebel areas of Ukraine's east will
observe a ceasefire with Ukrainian forces until June 27 in a
move that will run parallel with a truce by Ukrainian forces as
Russia is urged by the European Union to back the peace pact.
Crude exports from Libya's Hariga port have again been
blocked by protesting guards demanding unpaid wages, a spokesman
for operator Arabian Gulf Oil Co said on Monday.
(Editing by Himani Sarkar)