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Oil near US$89 amid Mideast tension

BANGKOK--Oil prices fluctuated Tuesday as the impending restart of a North American pipeline balanced fears that Syria's conflict might spread beyond its borders and jeopardize oil supplies.

Benchmark oil for December delivery was down 26 cents to US$88.39 a barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after briefly venturing above US$89 earlier in the day.

The contract fell US$1.32 to finish at US$88.73 per barrel in New York on Monday, reaching a three-week low as a major North American pipeline got set to reopen.

Brent crude fell 14 cents to US$109.32 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

TransCanada is expected to soon restart its 2,100-mile (3,380-kilometer) Keystone pipeline. It was shut last Wednesday after tests showed possible safety issues. The pipeline carries about 590,000 barrels of crude per day from Canada to facilities in the U.S. Midwest.

The ongoing civil war in Syria has shown signs of escalating beyond the country's borders, keeping oil traders nervously eyeing energy supplies. Syria itself lacks vast oil reserves but a wider conflict could threaten routes through which much of the world's oil is shipped.

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