Fin24

Oil passes $107 on violence in Libya, Bahrain

2011-02-22 09:34

Singapore - Brent prices broke past $107 in Asian trade on Tuesday as violence in Libya and Bahrain threatened to destabilise the key oil-producing Middle East and North African region, analysts said.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April gained $1.53 to $107.27 per barrel in the afternoon, surpassing two-year highs reached on Monday.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for March delivery, surged $7.20 to $93.40 per barrel on its last trading day.

"Rising violence in Libya and Bahrain are providing support to oil prices, with geopolitics a key focus of the market currently," said Barclays Capital in a report.

There are worries that spreading unrest in the Middle East and North Africa would threaten global crude supplies as it is home to major oil-producing nations including Libya.

Opec member Libya is Africa's fourth largest crude producer after Nigeria, Algeria and Angola, boasting production of 1.8 million barrels per day and estimated reserves of 42 billion barrels.

Libya exports most of its oil to European countries, including Italy, Germany, Spain and France.

Gunfire rattled the Libyan capital Tripoli on Monday as protesters attacked police stations as well as offices of the state broadcaster and set government buildings ablaze. There were also claims of a "massacre" by government gunmen "firing indiscriminately" in Tajura district.

Human Rights Watch said on Monday that at least 233 people had been killed since Thursday in protests inspired by the uprisings in Libya's neighbours Egypt and Tunisia.

Protesters also overran several cities in the embattled nation as leader Moamer Kadhafi denied Monday he had fled the country he has ruled for four decades.