Oil down amid crises in Japan, Mideast

2011-03-15 07:08

Singapore - Crude fell in Asia on Tuesday as traders continued to assess the impact on demand caused by the Japanese nuclear crisis and earthquake as well as ongoing troubles in the Middle East, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, dipped 58 cents to $100.61 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for April lost 72 cents to $112.95.

For now, it appears that oil demand would not be as hard hit as previously thought, analysts said.

"Crude oil demand (from Japan) will therefore decrease but then Japan will likely boost import of oil products such as fuel oil and diesel fuel for power generation use," said Victor Shum, senior principal for Purvin and Gertz energy consultancy in Singapore.

Japan, the world's third largest economy, is also the third largest oil-consuming country.

The Asian powerhouse was hit by a massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake Friday, unleashing a tsunami that battered the country's northeast coast and stretched across the Pacific.

The quake also damaged nuclear power plants, on which the country relies heavily for energy, with concerns growing that one near Tokyo could go into meltdown following several blasts since Saturday.

Continuing unrest in the crude-producing Middle East is also on investors' radar, analysts said.

Saudi Arabia on Monday sent troops into Bahrain to help restore order in the Gulf kingdom amid pro-democracy protests.

The Saudi government said it had responded to a call for help from its neighbor as Saudi-led forces from the Gulf countries' joint Peninsula Shield Force crossed the causeway separating the two countries.