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Oil prices soar for a second day as unrest threatens Libyan supply

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2011-02-22

Oil prices continued to soar Tuesday with Brent oil prices hitting highs of $108.57 per barrel before settling at $105.78. Continuing violence in Libya threatens to hamper exports from the oil rich nation.

AFP - Oil prices soared Tuesday amid deadly violence in Libya, the first major oil exporter to be hit with political turmoil that has spread across the Arab world.

As leader Moamer Kadhafi launched a brutal crackdown against anti-regime protesters and foreign workers fled, traders feared for the impact on oil supplies.

"The market continues to be very focused on the instability in the Middle East, and Libya in particular," said oil analyst John Kilduff.

"The violence against the people, Kadhafi now losing control of some of the regions, the defection of some of the military and even the diplomatic corps -- it has escalated the situation to a point where we are likely to lose, at least for a time, Libya’s 1.1 million barrels a day to the oil market," he said.

Kadhafi's pledge to crush anti-regime protesters raised the stakes in an increasing bloody fight for control of the country, a fight that could halt oil shipments.

New York's WTI light sweet crude for March delivery closed at $93.57 a barrel, a gain of $7.37, or 8.5 percent, from Friday's close. There was no settlement Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange due to a public holiday.

In London, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April slipped four cents to settle at $105.78 a barrel, after hitting $108.57, a peak last seen on September 4, 2008.

Libya, which has Africa's largest oil reserves and is the continent's fourth largest producer, is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the cartel that produces about 40 percent of global supplies.

Speaking on the sidelines of a producer-consumer meeting in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Tuesday, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said OPEC was prepared to meet any shortage of supplies.

"There is absolutely no shortage of supply now... OPEC is ready to meet any shortage in supply when it happens," Naimi said.

"There is concern and fear but there is no shortage," the minister reiterated in a bid to assure consumer countries that crude oil supplies are guaranteed despite sweeping unrest.

Meanwhile, OPEC said its reference basket of 12 crude oils had breached the $100 barrier on Monday, at $100.59, the highest level in two and a half years.
 

Date created : 2011-02-21

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