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Oil prices continue to fall as supplies grow

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By PABLO GORONDI
Associated Press

The price of oil continued to fall Thursday, trading below $102 a barrel as the outlook for supply remained robust.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery was down 34 cents to $101.95 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was down 12 cents to $108.16 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Oil has been falling steadily for more than a week partly because worries about disruptions of the oil supply from Iraq have subsided and Libyan oil is returning to the global market.

Political strife has shut ports and disrupted production in Libya but agreements with local militias are now expected to open two ports. A major field restarted production Tuesday. Analysts said crude shipments could ramp up quickly because oil has accumulated in tanks at the closed ports.

Meanwhile, government data showed that a fall in U.S. oil supply was smaller than expected. The U.S. Energy Department reported Wednesday that U.S. crude supplies fell 2.4 million barrels last week. Analysts had expected a 3 million barrel decline. The department had revised up its estimate for U.S. crude production for this year and next year.

In its latest report on oil markets, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said global oil demand would grow from 91.1 million barrels a day in 2014 to 92.2 million barrels a day in 2015.

OPEC, however, said demand for its crude oil would fall slightly in 2015 due to rising supplies from other sources.

"Therefore, even if next year's world economic growth turns out to be better than expected and crude oil demand outperforms expectations, OPEC will have sufficient supply to provide to the market," said the Vienna-based group.

In other energy futures trading:

- Wholesale gasoline inched down 0.03 cent to $2.9374 a gallon.

- Natural gas rose 0.7 cent to $4.177 per 1,000 cubic feet.

- Heating oil added 0.42 cent to $2.8753 a gallon.

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