Oil Down in Asia on Profit-Taking

World oil prices fell in Asian trade Thursday as investors continued to lock in profits from recent gains and Libyan rebels exported the country's first crude shipment from a region that they control, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for May, pulled back 39 cents to $108.44 per barrel after crossing $109 for the first time in two-and-a-half years in U.S. trade Wednesday.

Brent North Sea crude for May delivery dipped 51 cents to $121.79 after touching $123.37 a barrel in London intra-day trading the day before.

"Oil prices are pulling back this morning primarily due to profit taking," said Victor Shum, senior principal for Purvin and Gertz international energy consultants in Singapore.

He added that the disruption in Libya's oil shipments appeared to be easing after rebels fighting veteran leader Moammer Gadhafi started exporting crude from an area that they control.

A tanker left the port of Tobruk in Libya's rebel-held east on Wednesday carrying the first consignment of oil since the rebel government won recognition from some countries, an Agence France Presse journalist reported.

The Greek-owned, Liberian-registered tanker left a terminal near Tobruk, 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the Egyptian border. It had docked there on Tuesday to load Libyan crude worth up to $100 million.

It was the first shipment for which the rebels had taken full responsibility and the first such exports since international coalition air strikes began on March 19 to support the uprising against Gadhafi.

Shum said however that the market was continuing to monitor the volatile situation in the oil-rich Middle East and North Africa region where popular uprisings have already toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt.

Source: Agence France Presse

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