Fin24

Oil higher on turmoil in Libya

2011-02-23 09:32

Singapore - Oil was higher in Asian trade on Wednesday due to the ongoing unrest in the Arab world, with the leader of major crude exporter Libya warning he would stamp out anti-government protesters.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for April delivery, rose 11c to $95.53 per barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for April was up 69c at $106.47.

The unrest in the key oil-producing Middle East and North African region which includes Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Iran - all of which have seen uprisings - has stoked fears of disruption to supplies, analysts said.

Libya, which has Africa's largest oil reserves and is the continent's fourth largest producer, is a member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), which ships about 40% of the world's crude.

But its leader Moamer Kadhafi pledged to crush anti-regime protesters and said he would "fight to the last drop of my blood", raising the stakes in an increasingly bloody fight for the country and heightening worries over supply.

However, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said oil cartel Opec was prepared to meet any shortage of the black gold.

Speaking on the sidelines of a producer-consumer meeting in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Tuesday, he said: "There is absolutely no shortage of supply now... Opec is ready to meet any shortage in supply when it happens."

"There is concern and fear but there is no shortage," he reiterated in a bid to assure consumer countries that crude supplies were guaranteed.