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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        21  February 2011

Oil up in Asia as Libyan tensions escalate

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Oil prices surged in Asian trade Monday, with Brent crude passing US$103 (S$131.25) as escalating tensions in Libya fuelled concerns over instability spreading across the oil-producing Arab states, analysts said.

Brent North Sea crude for April delivery soared US$1.02 to US$103.54 per barrel, and New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March, gained US$1.13 to US$87.33. 'Both benchmarks have really zoomed ahead this morning. The main driver is really the unrest in the Middle East,' said Victor Shum, senior principal for Purvin and Gertz energy consultants in Singapore.

He added that fresh violence in Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) member state Libya was igniting fears of instability spreading throughout the key oil-supplying Middle Eastern and North African region.

'Libya is a member of Opec and even though Libya's oil production isn't very significant on a global basis, it's really threatening close to the main suppliers of crude oil to the world, mainly Middle East and North Africa,' Mr Shum told AFP.

Intense gunfire was heard early on Monday in the heart of the Libyan capital Tripoli and several quarters of the city as Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of strongman Muammar Gaddafi, warned that the embattled nation was on the verge of civil war.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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