World oil prices up as Egyptian tensions mount

Singapore, Jan 31 (AFP) World oil prices rose in Asiantrade today on fears that mounting political tensions in Egyptwould disrupt supplies flowing through the Suez Canal,analysts said.

New York''s main contract, light sweet crude for Marchdelivery, was up 37 cents to USD 89.71 per barrel in morningtrade.

Brent North Sea crude for March rose 18 cents at USD99.60.

"The rising prices reflect continued tension in Egyptand the possibility that there would be (supply) constraintsthrough the Suez Canal," said Ben Westmore, minerals andenergy economist for National Australia Bank in Melbourne.

Tom Bentz of BNP Paribas said about one millionbarrels of oil per day pass through the Suez Canal.

"There is some nervousness about supplies and thatcould affect Europe more than the US," he said.

On Sunday, Egypt''s embattled President Hosni Mubaraktasked his new prime minister to ram through democraticreforms as thousands of protesters in central Cairo defied amilitary curfew to demand the veteran leader''s ouster.

His instructions to Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq wereread out on state television but had no discernable effect onprotesters who vowed to continue their demonstrations untilMubarak stepped down.

Investors are concerned that similar demonstrations --which have also touched Tunisia, Yemen and Jordan -- couldspread elsewhere in the oil-rich Middle East. (AFP)

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