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Libyan protests push oil prices up

The sun rises over an oil refinery.

TEXT OF STORY

Tess Vigeland: Mitchell mentioned that Libya is one of the world's biggest oil producers. So the unrest there has pushed oil markets into a bit of a frenzy.

Prices jumped today, with one key benchmark hitting a three-year high. And several major oil companies say they're planning to evacuate workers and their families.

Marketplace's Adriene Hill reports.


Adriene Hill: It's hard to predict any market, and:

Bruce Bullock: Oil crystal balls are notoriously hazy.

Bruce Bullock heads the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University. What's next for oil markets, he says, depends on how these protests in Libya play out.

Bullock:If it were to be drawn out and violent then we can expect probably some interruption in the flow and an increase in prices.

Bullock says OPEC has enough capacity to make up any shortfalls. But the violence has traders asking "what if?"

Tom Kloza is the chief analyst with Oil Price Information Service.

Tom Kloza: I think it adds to the bouillabaisse pot here that may boil over in terms of prices.

So what's it mean for consumers? Right now, Kloza's hopeful that the gas prices max out around $3.50 or $3.75 this year. His big concern: that unrest could spread; Kloza says if violence erupts in the Persian Gulf, all bets are off.

I'm Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

About the author

Adriene Hill is a senior multimedia reporter for the Marketplace sustainability desk, with a focus on consumer issues and the individual relationship to sustainability and the environment.
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