Oil prices rise 5 percent post Libya airstrikes

- Crude oil prices have risen around 5 percent after Egypt targeted militants in Libya.

ANKARA (AA) - Oil prices rose around five percent late Monday after Egypt's airstrikes on Libya despite the much anticipated eurozone meeting between Greece and EU.

The price of the global benchmark Brent crude oil jumped almost six percent in two days, reaching as high as $62.50 per barrel Monday.

The American benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, WTI, climbed above $53 per barrel to peak at $53.60 with a five percent increase since last Friday.

The sudden price jump came after Egypt bombed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) affiliated militants in Libya, an important oil-exporting country.

The ISIL group that threatens Iraq and Syria as well released a video Sunday that showed the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya.

Libya's oil output has significantly fallen since former leader Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in 2011, decreasing below 500,000 barrels per day in 2014 from 1.6 million barrels per day in 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, or the EIA. 

In addition, the country deals with internal strife that endangers its biggest oil export terminal, Es Sider.

However, the North African country consoled itself by regaining control of al-Mabrouk and al-Bahi oilfields from militants on Feb. 14 and reopening of its Hariga oil export terminal on Feb. 11 after a strike by security guards.

- Prices fall early morning

Oil prices fell 0.8 percent Monday morning, reaching as low as $60.69 per barrel before 9 a.m., GMT.

The fall came with data from Japan revealing that the country's Gross Domestic Product rose at an annualized rate of 2.2 percent in the final quarter of 2014, although the forecast was 3.7 percent.

Japan is the third-largest net importer of crude oil and oil products, according to the EIA, while the country prepared to take its nuclear facilities back online after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

In addition, the price fall came on the day of a eurozone finance ministers' meeting in Brussels where EU and Greek officials hold a meeting on the country's debt.

The talks ended without reaching an agreement last week, as Greece’s €240 billion bailout is set to expire on Feb. 28, and its government is unwilling to extend it, increasing concerns for creditors and the markets, experts say. 

The Greek Stock Market lost more than four percent Monday morning, before the eurozone meeting took off, official data showed.

- OPEC producers

Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, have not conducted an emergency meeting against the worst oil slump since 2008, as prices fell around 60 percent below the $46 per barrel mark on Jan. 13, the lowest since March 2009.

The oil cartel decided against production cuts on Nov. 27 at their annual meeting, while some members like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait lowered their official sales’ price of oil for Asia, in an attempt to gain more market share.

However, Iraq's oil exports fell 14 percent to 78.6 million barrels in January, compared to the previous month, while the country's revenues from oil exports decreased by $2 billion to reach $3.2 billion, according to Iraq's Ministry of Oil.

The average price for a single barrel of oil was $41.4 for the Iraqi exports, much below the average price of $56.59 for December, while the country set up its budget for 2015 based on the oil price of $56 per barrel.

- Future predictions

Analysts say that oil prices will continue to fall for the first half of the year due to low global demand and oversupply, but project them to rise in the second half of 2015, as the number of oil rigs in the U.S. and globally decrease.

The total number of oil rigs decreased to 3,309 on Jan. 2015, from 3,570 on Dec. 2014, recording a 7.31 percent decline worldwide, according to a Baker Hughes report published on Jan. 6.

The U.S.-based oil field services company said in a weekly report on Jan. 30 that the number of oil drilling rigs in the U.S. suffered the largest single-weekly drop since 1987 by falling 94 units week-on-week.

Experts highlight that an upward pressure on oil prices can also be seen with the cease-fire in Ukraine, if the western sanctions on Russia would be removed, and the country's energy sector would gain back its access to western institutions for capital investors and credits, as well as to western high-tech oil equipment and services.


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