Oil prices steady as Greece crisis abates

TOKYO: Oil prices were steady on Friday in thin trade in Asia, underpinned by a power outage at Britain's largest oilfield, though risks of oversupply following the Iranian nuclear deal and mixed economic data held back prices.

A decision on Thursday to reopen funding to near-bankrupt Greece, enabling it to make debt payments, improved risk sentiment, though lower jobless claims in the US boosted expectations for a rate hike.

"The market is really trying to digest what is happening. All the geo-political issues seem to be out of the way for the time being," said Jonathan Barratt, chief investment officer at Ayers Alliance in Sydney.

Front-month US crude futures were trading at $50.95per barrel at 0637 GMT, up 5 cents from their last settlement.Front-month Brent crude was up 13 cents at $57.05 abarrel.

US crude is heading for a third weekly decline and is down 3.5 percent this week, while Brent is more than 3 percent down and also on track for a third week of declines.

Britain's North Sea Buzzard oilfield was shut down on Thursday after experiencing problems on Wednesday night, several traders said. It was expected to come online by Friday.

Still, the market remains in oversupply with around 2.5 million barrels per day in excess of demand and the likelihood of more oil flowing from Iran, after the nuclear deal between Tehran.

An Iranian supertanker with two million barrels of oil is heading to Asia after sitting of the coast of Iran for months, the first vessel storing crude offshore to sail after the agreement, data showed on Thursday.

"The main focus here with Iran is that 30 million-odd barrels flowing around the world," Barrett said.

"The market really wants to work out what the hell is going to happen with them," he said.

In the US, data from industry intelligence firm Genscape showing higher crude inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma, hub, the delivery point for the US crude contract.