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ENERGY TECH
China's Wen shocked at rising oil prices

US, Gulf forces stage naval exercise
Manama (AFP) March 21, 2011 - US and Gulf naval forces have staged a joint exercise in the Gulf focused on tracking vessels deemed threatening, the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Force (CMF) said on Monday. Ships from Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States took part in the seven-day Exercise Goalkeeper 11-01 in central and southern Gulf waters to "train across the spectrum of Maritime Security Operations (MSO)", CMF said in a statement. It did not disclose when it happened.

The exercise focused on coordinating coalition security operations at sea, as well as "improving the dissemination of information among regional command centres and building relationships between contributing nations," said Bahraini Colonel Isa al-Doseri. He currently heads the Combined Task Force 152 that is in charge of Gulf security and cooperation task force within CMF. Doseri said the "exercise's key focus was working as a synchronised coalition team at sea and on shore to meet the challenge of locating and tracking specific vessels deemed to pose a threat of any kind to maritime security or to coalition nations in the Gulf region."

The announcement came shortly after Kuwaiti ships were deployed to Bahrain waters to take part in a joint Gulf force that entered the Gulf state last week to help quell a Shiite-led month-old protest. It also follows a decision by the Bahraini authorities to impose a maritime night curfew off a large part of its coast, without specifying the threat. Tension has escalated between Gulf Arab states and Iran on the northern shore of the narrow Gulf, as Tehran condemned the deployment of Gulf troops in Bahrain and slammed the heavy-handed crackdown on protests. CMF is a multi-national naval partnership in the Middle East, where some of the world's most important shipping lanes are located.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) March 21, 2011
Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao expressed shock at rising oil prices Monday and blamed loose monetary policies by "some countries" as well as political unrest in the Middle East for the spike.

"I (was) very surprised and shocked when I saw the international price of oil has exceeded $100 a barrel," Wen told a group of visiting business leaders.

China needed to better improve its system of oil pricing and make it more "consistent with international practice," he added.

Unrest in the Middle East and loose monetary policies in "some countries" had caused the spike in energy prices, he said.

Chinese leaders have cited a loose US monetary policy for the rise in global commodity prices, saying it has fueled inflation in China and led to a 4.9 percent rise in the nation's consumer price index in February.

Beijing's stability-obsessed policymakers have sought to curb rising prices and ensure that the social unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa does not erupt in China.

World oil prices rallied on Monday after Western air strikes were launched on key crude exporter Libya over the weekend with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, adding $1.75 to $102.82 a barrel.

In London morning trade, Brent North Sea crude for May earned $1.43 to $115.36 per barrel.

Speaking at the China Development Forum, Wen further voice optimism over the outlook for economic recovery in the United States and Europe, but urged Washington to further open its high-technology sector to Chinese firms.

"I feel optimistic about the US economy, about the European economy, and the whole world economy," Wen said.

"It won't be long for the US to get back on the track of a strong recovery."

earlier related report
Oil prices jump after Libya air strikes
New York (AFP) March 21, 2011 - World oil prices rallied Monday in the aftermath of Western air strikes on Libya and heightened turmoil in Yemen, both significant oil exporters.

Japan inability to gain full control of the Fukushima nuclear plant amid meltdown fears also contributed to continued high volatility in the market, analysts said.

New York's main West Texas Intermediate contract for April ended at $102.33 dollars a barrel, up $1.26 from late Friday.

In London Brent North Sea crude brought $1.03 more at $114.96.

"It's really the continued uncertainty that we are seeing in Libya," said Matt Smith of Summit Energy.

"It was priced in to a certain extent that the supply was going to be offline for a while.

"But the involvement of the UN and Western forces have really caused prices to rally because they think it is going to make the disruption in Libya more protracted that it may have been."

Analysts at JPMorgan said they expected more volatility in a multiple-crisis environment.

"Oil prices continue to see-saw with developments in the Middle East and Japan. Potential for short-term disruptions as well as low-probability but high-impact events is driving the market," they said.

The intervention by French, American and British forces in Libya -- which exported some 1.2 million barrels a day prior to the uprising against Moamer Kadhafi -- has hobbled loyalist forces but offers little hint about how the situation will be resolved.

"A stalemate at current positions leaves most of the oil export ports in the hands of the Kadhafi regime," noted PetroMatrix analyst Olivier Jakob in Zurich.

"Oil prices have gone up due to military attacks in Libya from UN forces," said Victor Shum, an analyst at energy consultants Purvin and Gertz.

"More oil installations could be damaged due to collateral damage and internal sabotage," Shum told AFP.

Combined with unrest elsewhere, he said, "oil supply disruption is going to support prices in its triple digits."

In London, the Centre for Global Energy Studies warned that the tightening market is in danger of repeating the 2008 price surge when crude futures topped $147 a barrel.

It said the oil market needed "a clear unambiguous signal" from the OPEC cartel that the lost Libyan production would be replaced.



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ENERGY TECH
Oil prices fall after Libya declares cease-fire
New York (AFP) March 18, 2011
World oil prices slipped Friday in volatile trade after major crude exporter Libya declared a cease-fire with rebels, easing fears about possible damage to its energy facilities. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for April, settled at $101.07 a barrel, down 35 cents from Thursday's market close. In London, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in May shed 97 cents to close at $113 ... read more







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