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Crude futures rise as traders watch geopolitical tensions; Brent at $63.80, WTI at $56.78


Crude oil futures extended gains from the end of last week on Monday as traders continued to eye geopolitical tensions threatening supply from the Middle East and Libya.

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At 1035 GMT front-month ICE Brent September futures were up $1.33/b from Friday's settle at $63.80/b, while the NYMEX August light sweet crude futures contract was $1.02/b higher at $56.78/b.

On Friday, Iran seized a UK chemical tanker and briefly detained a UK-owned VLCC in the Strait of Hormuz, with the UK government subsequently advising British ships to avoid the area "for an interim period."

Crude prices rose late Friday and traders on Monday morning were continuing to price in increased geopolitical risk around the key chokepoint for oil supply from the Persian Gulf.

"At this juncture the next steps are unclear, which is adding to the risk premium," BNP Paribas analyst Harry Tchilinguirian said Monday.

Despite the increasing tension in the region, fundamental supply has so far been unaffected.

"It is another step in the escalation but doesn't mean closure of the Strait of Hormuz yet; the responses from the US and UK have been measured so this is a proportionate price response to a proportionate development," he added.

Meanwhile, traders were also watching rising tensions in Libya, following a brief closure at the country's largest oil field on Friday.

Libya's National Oil Corporation said Monday it has lifted the force majeure on Sharara crude oil loadings from the Zawiya terminal following the closure of a valve by an unidentified party.

NOC said the valve was reopened late Sunday and that production restarted early Monday morning, with a gradual return to normal levels expected.

Around 290,000 b/d of production at the Sharara oil field was forced offline. NOC said the incident highlights the deteriorating security conditions in the region.

As of 1035 GMT, the US Dollar Index was slightly higher at 97.18.

--Christopher Ewen,

--Edited by Alisdair Bowles,