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UPDATE 5-Oil steady as surging virus cases cloud demand outlook

Mon, 28th Sep 2020 04:16

* Firming dollar mitigates some losses

* Russian oil minister warns of resurgent COVID-19 risks

* Higher exports from Iran, Libya

* Possible strike action looms in Norway
(Updates prices, adds details)

By Noah Browning

LONDON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Oil prices were largely steady
on Monday but on track for their first monthly fall since April
as rising coronavirus cases continued to spur concerns about
demand.

Brent crude slipped 3 cents to $41.89 a barrel by
1400 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate was at $40.12 a
barrel, down 13 cents or 0.3%.

"The rise in daily infections has accelerated and the total
number is now very close to 33 million. The most impacted
countries are the populous ones," PVM analyst Tamas Varga said.

"The speed with which the virus is spreading is the main
concern for both health officials and financial investors."

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Monday that
the global oil market has been stable for the past few months
and the demand-supply balance restored, but warned of the risks
of a second wave of COVID-19 cases.

Meanwhile one of the heaviest clashes between Armenia and
Azerbaijan since 2016 broke out over the weekend, reigniting
concern about stability in the South Caucasus, a corridor for
pipelines carrying oil and gas to world markets.

Despite efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries and their allies to limit output, more crude
is being exported from OPEC producers Iran and Libya.

OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said on Sunday that
commercial oil inventories in OECD countries are expected to
stand only slightly above the five-year average in the first
quarter of 2021, before falling below that level for the rest of
the year.

A factor that may offer some support to the market is the
prospect of industrial action in Norway, where a workers' strike
that may take place on Sept. 30 is threatening to cut its
production by 900,000 barrels per day, the Norwegian Oil and Gas
Association (NOG) said on Friday.

(Reporting by Noah Browning and Florence Tan; editing by David
Evans and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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