Oil slides below $70 as a dispute over Libya's ports ends

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libya oilA tank truck exits from the main gate of the Zawiya refinery and oil port towards the local market in Libya.REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

Oil prices slipped below $70 on Thursday as markets eyed a potential comeback for output in Libya, where armed clashes near eastern ports have posed major supply disruptions in recent months.

West Texas Intermediate crude, the US benchmark, fell 2% to $69.20 around 11:30 a.m. ET. Brent, the international benchmark, shed 1% to $73.32. Crude had its largest one day drop in more than a year on Wednesday, shedding more than 5% at lows.

Libya's National Oil Corporation said in a statement that it had lifted force majeure on several ports that had been blocked off, according to The Wall Street Journal. The move sets the stage for the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member to resume operations at the ports, where hundreds of thousands of barrels had been shut out.

Eastern factions handed the ports - Es Sider, Ras Lunuf, Hariga and Zueitina - over to the state-run oil company on Wednesday, the Journal reported. It could potentially return to full operation of more than a million barrels per day.

Brent is up nearly 53% this year.

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