Oil up in Asia as Middle East unrest spreads

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Singapore, Feb 28 (AFP) Crude prices jumped in Asiantrade today with New York futures again in sight of USD 100 abarrel after unrest in the oil-rich Middle East broadened,analysts said.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April gained USD1.28 to USD 113.42 per barrel while New York''s main contract,light sweet crude for April delivery, rose USD 1.66 to USD99.54 a barrel.

The New York contract for West Texas Intermediate oilhad hit USD 103.41 on Thursday, a level last seen in September2008, and Brent came close to USD 120 before Saudi Arabiaassured markets that it was ready to boost supplies.

"The unrest in the Middle East and fears that thesituation will worsen are still supporting oil prices despitenews that Saudi Arabia will increase output," said Ong YiLing, investment analyst for Phillip Futures in Singapore.

Anti-government turmoil now convulsing Libya and muchof the Middle East spread to Oman, another Gulf oil exporter,over the weekend with police shooting dead two demonstrators.

Major crude producer Iran on Sunday urged OPEC,especially Saudi Arabia, to refrain from any unilateral hikein oil output, saying current crude production was enough tomeet any shortages arising over the unrest in Libya.

"There is no need for OPEC members to be hasty andtake unilateral decisions" to raise output, Oil MinisterMasoud Mirkazemi said of Saudi Arabia, when asked to commenton Riyadh''s offer to compensate for any shortage.

Mirkazemi, the current president of the Organisationof the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), said the oilcartel had so far not decided to hold any extraordinarysession to discuss a raise in output.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC''s largest producer of oil, pumpsaround 8.4 million barrels of oil per day and Iran is thecartel''s second largest exporter. (AFP)

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