1 Feb 2011

Oil price surges amid supply worries

7:37 pm on 1 February 2011

Oil prices have reached their highest level since since 2008 due to political unrest in Egypt.

Prices rose on fears that the mass protests could lead to the closure of the Suez Canal and disrupt oil supplies.

On Monday, trading volumes for crude oil in New York reached above a previous high set in April 2010, while Brent crude hit $US100 a barrel for the first time since October 2008, Radio New Zealand's Washington correspondent reports.

Investors are worried that continued anti-government protests in Egypt could affect oil supplies.

The Suez Canal and the Sumed pipeline, which both pass through Egypt, provide more than two million barrels of oil a day to Europe and other markets.

The regional uncertainty about oil supplies is also outweighing previous bets that oil prices were likely to fall because of increased oil storage capacity in the United States.

There has been no announcement from the oil producers group OPEC on boosting output.

The Automobile Association says any increase in the price of crude oil as a result of the uprising in Egypt is likely to affect pump prices in New Zealand.

The AA's petrolwatch spokesperson, Mark Stockdale, says New Zealand's exchange rate could also rise, offsetting any increase in the price of crude.

Mr Stockdale says because the increase will take a couple of days to filter through to the New Zealand market, it is a case of wait-and-see.