Singapore - Oil prices hovered above $102 a barrel on Tuesday in Asia, as traders mulled how long Libyan oil exports will remain shut down amid a third night of allied attacks on forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.
Benchmark crude for April delivery was down 14 US cents to $102.19 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The April contract, which expires on Tuesday, rose $1.26 to settle at $102.33 on Monday.
In London, Brent crude for May delivery was down 55c at $114.41 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange.
Fierce fighting during the last month has halted most of Libya's 1.6 million barrels a day of crude production, and investors are concerned coalition military intervention on the side of rebels could prolong the shutdown of oil output from the Opec nation.
Goldman Sachs estimates that about $10 has been added to the price of oil from speculation that political unrest in the Middle East could spread to other countries and disrupt oil supplies
"These developments suggest that the $10 a barrel risk premium may prove too modest," Goldman Sachs said in a report.
Over the medium term, high oil prices could slow economic growth which in turn would reduce demand for oil, lowering the price, the bank said.
On Monday, three senior Yemeni army commanders defected and joined a pro-democracy movement that wants the US-backed president to step down while protesters in Syria clashed with riot police.
In other Nymex trading for April contracts, heating oil fell 0.8c to $3.04 a gallon and gasoline slid 1.1c to $2.99 a gallon. Natural gas gained 0.1c to $4.17 per 1 000 cubic feet.