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Oil up in Asia as West launches Libya strikes

Crude prices rose in Asian trade today as Western forces staged air strikes to halt Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's attacks on civilians, analysts said.

business Updated: Mar 21, 2011 10:01 IST

Crude prices rose in Asian trade Monday as Western forces staged air strikes to halt Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's attacks on civilians, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, gained $1.88 to $102.95 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for May was up $2.14 to $116.07.

In the West's biggest intervention in the Arab world since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, US warships and a British submarine fired more than 120 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya late Saturday, US military officials said.

The joint action by the United States, Britain and France came after the UN Security Council authorised the use of "all necessary means" to protect civilians and enforce a ceasefire and no-fly zone against Gaddafi's forces.

"Oil prices have gone up due to military attacks in Libya from UN forces... More oil installations could be damaged due to collateral damage and internal sabotage," said Victor Shum, senior principal for Purvin and Gertz international energy consultants in Singapore.

"The unrest in the Middle East and North African region may spread to other (parts of the) region, and hence the contagion effect on oil prices remain. Oil supply disruption is going to support prices in its triple digits," Shum told AFP.

The Libyan strongman has continued attacking rebels after an uprising against his four-decade-old regime following similar movements in Egypt and Tunisia that rocked the region and sent oil prices soaring.

Oil-rich Libya was producing 1.69 million barrels a day before the unrest, according to the International Energy Agency. Of this 1.2 million barrels were exported, mostly to Europe. Other major customers are China and the United States.