Market Overview

Brent Steady Below $110 After Algerian Energy Field Raid

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Brent crude oil slipped below $110 on Thursday after the unexpected opening of a North Sea pipeline system. The commodity traded at 109.92 at on Thursday morning.

After a leak was discovered in the Cormorant Alpha platform in the North Sea, the pipeline was closed for repair, cutting off supply on Tuesday. However, the operator of the platform is preparing to reopen the system which would reintroduce an estimated 80,000 barrels per day. The closure added buoyancy to Brent prices, as the past year's supply has been unreliable and any interruptions have created a price spike.

Also weighing on prices is the worry that global supply will overshadow demand in 2013. The World Bank's decision to cut its forecast for world growth from 3 percent to 2.4 percent reignited worries that oil demand would wane in the coming year.

Data from Europe showing the car market was at a 17 year low, coupled with speculation that the US would continue its battle between Democrats and Republicans over the fiscal crisis further supported these woes.

Prices were underpinned by geopolitical threats to supply interruption as Islamist militants took Western and Algerian hostages from an Algerian gas field. The attack in the early hours of Wednesday was a response to the intervention in Mali.

While reports of how many people are being held by the raiders are unclear, the number of hostages has been reported between 41 and 100 people, including seven Americans and an unknown number of Japanese and Europeans. According to the CNBC, the militants reportedly killed three people, including a Briton and French national.

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