TOKYO (Reuters) - Crude prices extended gains on Monday in Asia, supported by comments from the Saudi energy minister saying the oil market is heading toward balance.
London Brent crude for September delivery <LCOc1> was up 17 cents at $50.52 a barrel by 2247 GMT on Sunday, after settling up 64 cents at $50.35 on Friday.
NYMEX crude for August delivery <CLc1> was up 5 cents at $49.04 a barrel, after closing up 66 cents, or 1.4 percent, on Friday. There will be no West Texas Intermediate crude settlement on Monday as U.S. financial and commodity markets are closed for the Independence Day holiday.
The energy minister of Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, and the secretary general of OPEC agree that the global oil market is heading toward a balance and that prices are starting to settle, according to comments carried by Saudi state news agency SPA.
U.S. drillers last week added oil rigs for a fourth week in five, according to a closely followed report Friday, in the best month of producers returning to the well pad since August that signaled a near-two year rout in drilling may have ended.
The Niger Delta Avengers, a militant group that has been carrying out attacks on Nigerian oil facilities in the past few months, claimed responsibility on Sunday for five new attacks in the southern energy hub since Friday.
Attacks in the Niger Delta have pushed Nigerian crude production to 30-year lows, although the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said last week that output was rising because of repairs and a fall-off in attacks.
Russian oil output stood at 10.84 million barrels per day (bpd) in June, up from 10.83 bpd in May, Energy Ministry data showed on Saturday.
Norwegian offshore oil workers and employers signed a new wage deal on Saturday, avoiding a strike that would have cut the output from western Europe's top oil and gas producer by about 6 percent, employers and unions said.
Money managers cut their net long U.S. crude futures and options positions in the week to June 28, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday.
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Joseph Radford)