Crude oil — File Photo
Crude oil — File Photo

SINGAPORE: Oil turned higher in Asia Tuesday on tight North Sea crude supply and Middle East tensions while the European Central Bank held off on its bond-buying programme for another week, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September gained 20 cents to $96.17 a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October gained 23 cents to $113.93.

Crude prices were “choppy... as investors worried about the ECB's ability to address the eurozone debt crisis, while tight North Sea supplies and Middle East turmoil limited losses,” Phillip Futures said in a report.

The ECB's seeming reticence in restarting its bond-buying programme was in the spotlight as data published on its website showed it did not buy any sovereign bonds last week for the 23rd week in a row.

In the North Sea, crude supply is expected to be disrupted in September primarily by the shutdown of an oil field for scheduled maintenance.

Meanwhile, Israeli sabre-rattling about an imminent unilateral strike being prepared by the country against nuclear sites in major oil producer Iran had markets on edge.

Israel, like its close ally the United States, accuses Iran of seeking to develop an atomic arsenal.

Tehran insists its nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful, while its military chiefs warn that they will destroy Israel if it attacks.

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