Oil surges above USD 100 per barrel on Egypt turmoil

London, Jan 31 (AFP) Oil topped USD 100 per barreltoday for the first time since 2008, as traders fretted overviolent unrest in Egypt that could disrupt the flow of oilthrough the Suez Canal on its way to the West.

London''s Brent North Sea crude for delivery inMarch surged as high as USD 100.25 per barrel in lateafternoon deals -- which marked the highest level sinceOctober 1, 2008.

"Brent oil surged above USD 100 ... followingconcerns that ongoing protests in Egypt might cause furtherpolitical and economic uncertainty in Middle East withpotential disruption in oil supplies -- as the possibleclosure of the Suez Canal seems to be on the horizon," Sucdenanalyst Myrto Sokou told AFP.

Brent crude oil later stood at USD 100.01 perbarrel, up 59 cents from Friday''s closing level.

New York''s main contract, light sweet crude forMarch, gained 69 cents to USD 90.04 a barrel.

Oil has soared beyond USD 100, despite earlierassurances from OPEC''s chief that the cartel stood ready toraise oil output should the Egypt crisis hinder supplies.

A sea of protesters flooded downtown Cairo today,brushing aside concessions by President Hosni Mubarak andvowing to topple his regime with strikes and million-strongmarches in the capital and Alexandria.

In what is seen as a sop to the protesters, a newcabinet line-up was announced in which widely hated interiorminister Habib al-Adly and the previous finance and cultureministers were axed.

But protesters massed in downtown Cairo vowed theywould only be satisfied when Mubarak quits, and promised tostep up their efforts to bring down his creaking regime.

Organisers announced an indefinite general strikeand said tomorrow would see a "march of a million" in thecapital after a week of revolt in which at least 125 peoplehave been killed.

Earlier on Monday, OPEC secretary-general AbdallaSalem El-Badri warned that "there could be a real shortage" ofcrude oil passing through the Suez.

"If we see a real shortage, we will need to act,"he told reporters on the sidelines of an oil conference inLondon.

However, El-Badri stressed that "the market is wellsupplied" with strong inventories and "demand is less thanlast year" at this time.

The OPEC chief added that he saw no need for anemergency production meeting ahead of the next scheduledgathering in Vienna in June.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countiespumps about 40 per cent of the the world''s oil, with the bulkcoming from member Saudi Arabia. (AFP)

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