Tensions rise in the MENA; oil prices rise above US$105

Light sweet crude for May delivery traded at US$104.9, while Brent crude for May delivery traded at US$116.2, as rising tensions in the Middle East and Libya threatened to disrupt oil supplies. As per analysts, Brent crude is expected to break all time records this week as no easing of allied bombing on Gadhafi's forces seems to be in sight. This may halt any oil shipments from Libya-Africa's largest oil reserves holder, with a daily oil output quota of 1.69 mln barrels. Coalition missiles strikes have pounded forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for five days, giving rebels breathing room to regroup. With Gadhafi refusing to step down and U.S. President Obama ruling out a land invasion, the conflict could face a stalemate that keeps most of the OPEC nation's 1.6 mln bpd of crude production shut down longer than investors had initially anticipated. In Syria, a crackdown on anti-government protests escalated Wednesday as police killed at least 15 demonstrators in the southern city of Daraa. Yemen declared a 30-day state of emergency in a bid to quell an expanding uprising against the 32-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
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