Image reportedly showing protesters in Libya. AP Photo

Oil price jumps on back of Libyan protests

Unrest and protests in Libya are forcing oil prices to rise today as international oil companies prepare to evacuate their expat staff from Libyan operations.

THE PRICE OF BRENT CRUDE OIL has jumped to highest level since before the 2008 crisis due to continuing unrest in Libya and fears that unrest in Iran will escalate, the BBC reports.

The price rose over 1.5 per cent to $104.25 a barrel today as protests continue in Libya, which exports about three-quarters of its oil to EU countries and accounts for about 10 per cent of the EU’s oil.

BP has already suspended its operations in Libya and plans to evacuate its 40 expat staff and their families from the country.

The PA reports that BP says it is monitoring the situation “on a daily basis” and cannot say when work will recommence. BP does not produce oil or gas in Libya, but had been preparing offshore drilling operations which it says it had not yet begun to drill.

Spain’s Repsol and Italy’s Eni are still operating in Libya, while Royal Dutch Shell temporarily evacuated the families of expat staff members. Austria’s OMV and Statoil have evacuated some of their staff.

Al Jazeera reports that the Al-Zuwayya tribe has threatened to cut off oil exports from eastern Libya unless the authorities ease up on protesters.

Recent political upheaval in Egypt also pushed oil prices up over $100 a barrel, amid fears supplies through the Suez Canal would be cut off.

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