Brent past USD 104 in Asia on Middle East tensions

Singapore, Feb 17 (AFP) Oil surged past USD 104 in Asiantrade today as inflamed geopolitical tensions in the MiddleEast drove crude supply concerns, analysts said.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April added 49cents to USD 104.27 per barrel, and New York''s main contract,light sweet crude for March delivery gained 27 cents to USD85.26.

Growing animosity in the Middle East was rallying crudeprices, said Victor Shum, senior principal of Purvin and Gertzenergy consultants in Singapore.

"Geopolitical tensions in the Middle East are keeping oilprices up," he told AFP.

"This is all due really to the news that Iran is going tosend ships to the Suez Canal, and also other news about peopleprotesting in other countries besides Egypt," Shum added.

Israel''s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman yesterdaysaid Iran was sending two warships into the easternMediterranean, labelling the act a "provocation" that theJewish state cannot ignore for long.

He added that Iranian warships cruising past Israel''scoast was something that had not occurred for many years andwas a "provocation that proves the self confidence and cheekof the Iranians is growing from day-to-day."

Elsewhere in the Middle East, pro-democracy protestserupted in violence in Bahrain, with reports of two killed assecurity forces attacked demonstrators in Manama today.

Tensions in the Middle East, home to major Organizationof the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members, tend topush oil prices higher as traders worry over the potential forsupply disruption. (AFP)

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