Oil prices slip amid Chavez death

Crude oil prices slid on Wednesday, having earlier rebounded on uncertainty after the death of Hugo Chavez, the president of major Latin American crude producer Venezuela.

In early afternoon deals, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April drifted 13 cents lower to $111.47 per barrel.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for April dropped 20 cents to $90.62 a barrel.

Venezuela was plunged into uncertainty on Wednesday after the death of Chavez, who had dominated the oil-rich country for 14 years.

"We do not expect to see any drastic changes in Venezuela’s oil operations, especially following recent corporate news from the state oil company PDVSA that Venezuela's oil industry is operating normally and no disruption is expected following the death of President Hugo Chavez," said analyst Myrto Sokou at London-based brokerage Sucden.

Jason Hughes, head of premium client management at IG Markets Singapore, added that the full impact of the left-wing leader's death has yet to be felt but traders are watching for signs of instability within OPEC member Venezuela.

"There is a potential for instability in the country," Hughes told AFP.

Venezuela has the world's largest proven oil reserves, according to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The government says Venezuela produces three million barrels of oil per day, although OPEC says the figure is 2.3 million. Oil production accounts for 90 percent of the country's hard-currency revenue.

Chavez, 58, lost his battle with cancer on Tuesday.

Later on Wednesday, traders will digest the latest weekly snapshot of crude stockpiles in top global oil consumer the United States.