Oil Prices Drop As Rebels Take Control Of Oil Ports

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Oil prices slipped below $105 a barrel Monday as Libyan rebels retook control of two key port towns and said they would restart crude exports within weeks.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for May delivery was down 60 cents to $104.80 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 20 cents to settle at $105.40 on Friday.
In London, Brent crude was down 52 cents at $115.07 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange.
Rebels recaptured oil complexes in the coastal cities of Ras Lanouf and Brega as strikes by coalition fighter jets and missiles pushed back forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Rebels have vowed to quickly restart Libya's 1.6 million barrels per day of crude output, but many important foreign oil workers have fled the country and the fighting makes tanker shipments risky.
Investors are also closely watching escalating protests in Syria and Yemen, the latest unrest in a wave of uprisings this year that unseated leaders from power in Tunisia and Egypt and sparked violent demonstrations throughout North Africa and the Middle East.
Also helping push prices lower were worries over Europe's debt crisis and the earthquake and nuclear crisis in Japan.
Some analysts expect strong global crude demand to continue this year, keeping oil above $100. Barclays Capital raised its 2011 average crude price forecast to $106 from $91.
In other Nymex trading for April contracts, heating oil fell 1.43 cents to $3.0405 a gallon and gasoline dropped 1.66 cents to $3.0279 a gallon. Natural gas added 1.2 cents to $4.415 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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