Govt watching crude prices, will manage: Pranab

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New Delhi, Feb 2 (PTI) Concerned over a spike in crudeoil prices in international markets due to turmoil in theMiddle East, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said thegovernment is monitoring the situation and will manage it.

"Unfortunately, because of developments in the MiddleEast and its impact on the Arab world... (it) is causinguncertainty about production, about availability. We arewatching the situation," Mukherjee told reporters here.

He said the Finance Ministry is in constant touch withits counterparts in the Petroleum Ministry on the unfoldingsituation.

He pointed out that India had managed the situation evenwhen crude prices touched a record USD 147 per barrel in July,2008.

"... At that time also, we had to manage the situation.

Government will take care of it (now)," Mukherjee said.

The FM''s comments come in the wake of massive protests inEgypt by demonstrators demanding the resignation of PresidentHosni Mubarak.

Similar protests have also erupted against theauthoritarian regimes of other Arab nations like Yemen andJordan. Last month, Tunisian dictator Zine al-Abedine benAli was deposed in an uprising that left 200 people dead.

The severe winter conditions in Europe and US had alreadypushed crude oil prices to a two-year high of over USD 90 perbarrel in January, 2011.

Crude oil prices continued to rise in Asian trade today,with Brent crude within a whisker of breaching the USD 102 perbarrel mark as the unrest in Egypt and other parts of theMiddle East continued to weigh on the investor mood, analystssaid.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for Marchdelivery, gained 2 cents to USD 90.79 per barrel, while BrentNorth Sea crude for March delivery advanced by 25 cents to USD101.99 per barrel, in Asian trade today.

In addition, the turmoil in Egypt pushed up the price ofBrent crude price to an intra-day high of USD 102.08 perbarrel yesterday, its highest level since late-September,2008.

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