Crude futures rose to their highest in more than two years in New York today as Libya’s violent uprising threatened to disrupt shipments from Africa’s third-biggest supplier. The commodity surged to $96.39 a barrel in New York, and to $108.42 in London. Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi vowed to fight a growing rebellion until his “last drop of blood.”
“If Libya and Algeria were to halt oil production together, prices could peak above $220 a barrel and OPEC spare capacity will be reduced to 2.1 million barrels a day, similar to levels seen during the Gulf war and when prices hit $147 in 2008,” the Tokyo-based bank said in a note today.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has spare production capacity of about 5 million barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency. Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said yesterday that the organization will boost output if there is a shortage.
“The closest comparison is the 1990-1991 Gulf War,” during which OPEC’s spare capacity dropped to 1.8 million barrels a day and prices surged 130 percent in seven months, Nomura analysts led by Michael Lo in Hong Kong wrote.
Nomura said the $220 prediction may be an underestimate, as speculative investors trading oil who were not active in the early 1990s may amplify the price gain in the event of an export halt.
Algeria produced 1.25 million barrels a day last month, while Libya pumped 1.59 million a day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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