Oil Hits US$100 Per Barrel

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Oil prices hit US$100 per barrel Wednesday as forces loyal to Libya's Moammar Gadhafi clashed with protesters, expanding their control over parts of that OPEC nation.

In afternoon trading benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery was up US$3.48, or 3.7 per cent, at US$98.90 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Prices climbed as high as US$100 earlier in the day, hitting triple digits for the first time since October 2, 2008.

WTI has jumped 18 per cent since Valentine's Day.

In London, Brent crude added US$5.33, or five per cent, at US$111.11 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

The rebellion in Libya, which has the most oil reserves in Africa, follows uprisings in other North African countries that have ousted leaders in Tunisia and Egypt.

As protests widened in Libya, French oil giant Total said it started to wind down its oil production in the country, which produced an average of 55,000 barrels per day last year.

That follows similar moves by other oil companies working in the country.

The country's biggest oil producer, Eni, idled operations that produce 244,000 barrels of oil and gas per day. Spain's Repsol-YPF and Austrian oil company OMV also suspended operations.

Barclays Capital estimates that as many as one million barrels per day have been shut down so far.

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