* Brent, U.S. crude climb on demand, renewed geopolitical
* Oil prices set for first weekly gain in four weeks
* Obama warns of further sanctions against Russia
* Libya calls for U.N. help to protect oil field, ports
By Keith Wallis
SINGAPORE, July 18 Brent futures climbed above
$108 a barrel on Friday, extending sharp overnight gains amid
heightened geopolitical concerns after a Malaysian jetliner was
shot down over eastern Ukraine.
Oil prices on both sides of the Atlantic surged about 2
percent on Thursday, recovering from a weeks-long decline, on
news of the crash that came a day after the United States
slapped sanctions on Russia's biggest firms for the first time
after Moscow's failure to curb violence in Ukraine.
Brent climbed 42 cents to $108.31 a barrel by 0415
GMT after rising 72 cents in the previous session. U.S. crude
rose 48 cents to $103.67 after closing $1.99 higher.
Both benchmarks were on track for the first weekly gain in
"The news last night is the catalyst to push oil higher,"
said Jonathan Barratt, chief executive of Sydney commodity
research firm Barratt Bulletin, referring to the downing of the
Malaysian passenger plane that killed all 298 people on board.
The rebound in prices was stronger due to the "aggressive
sell down" in oil since mid-June, he added.
Brent and U.S. crude were also supported by data from the
United States and China earlier in the week that indicated an
improving demand outlook in the world's top two oil consumers.
While data from China showed a slightly
stronger-than-expected second-quarter growth of 7.5 percent and
higher oil demand, a report from the United States showed a
larger-than-expected draw in crude stocks of 7.5 million barrels
"It does paint a bullish picture. We are now in an upswing
phase," Barratt said.
Investors are now keeping an eye on the Ukraine situation
and Libya for further trading cues.
"The turnaround in risk sentiment after a downgrading of the
geopolitical risk premium over the past couple of weeks should
see prices push higher from here," said ANZ in a note on Friday.
U.S. President Barack Obama warned Russian President
Vladimir Putin on Thursday of additional sanctions on Moscow if
it does not change course in Ukraine, a day after the U.S.
imposed sanctions on a raft of companies including Rosneft
, Russia's top oil producer.
In Libya, a protest by oil security guards continued at
Brega port, halting oil production at state-run Sirte Oil Co.
The country is producing around 555,000 barrels a day of oil, a
spokesman for state-run National Oil Corp said on Thursday.
Libya has asked the U.N. Security Council for help to
protect its oil installations, oil export ports and civil
airports, warning that without more international assistance the
North African oil producer could become a failed state.
(Editing by Himani Sarkar)