OPEC ready to act on supplies amid Egypt turmoil

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OPEC stands ready to increase oil production if the Egypt crisis cuts the flow of crucial supplies through the Suez Canal to the West, its secretary-general Abdalla Salem El-Badri indicated on Monday.

El-Badri, head of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), warned that "there could be a real shortage" of crude oil passing through the Suez.

"If we see a real shortage, we will need to act," he told reporters on the sidelines of an oil conference in London.

However, El-Badri stressed that "the market is well supplied" with strong inventories and "demand is less than last year" at this time.

The OPEC chief added that he saw no need for an emergency production meeting ahead of the next scheduled gathering in Vienna in June.

Earlier on Monday, world oil prices rose to within a whisker of $100 a barrel on fears that violent unrest in Egypt could disrupt the flow of oil through the Suez Canal on its way to the West, analysts said.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March struck $99.97 a barrel in Asian deals. Crude last hit $100 dollars in October, 2008.

On Sunday, Egypt's embattled President Hosni Mubarak tasked his new prime minister with ramming through democratic reforms as thousands of protesters in central Cairo defied a military curfew to demand the veteran leader's ousting.

- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report -

© 2011 AFP

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