London Brent oil prices jumped within a whisker of $120 on Thursday, hitting fresh 2008 high points, as ongoing Libya instability stoked supply jitters across the Middle East and North Africa.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April rallied as high as $119.79 per barrel, which was the highest level since August 22, 2008. It had already smashed past $110 on Wednesday as Libya was rocked by fresh violence.
At the same time, New York's light sweet crude for April, known as West Texas Intermediate (WTI), jumped to $103.41, a level last witnessed in late September 2008.
"Oil prices continued to surge higher as events in Libya dominate the headlines and the oil market," said Westhouse Securities analyst Dave Hart.
"The country's output of high-quality crude is being significantly impacted due to the exodus of foreign personnel."
In later morning deals on Thursday, Brent oil later stood at $117.01, up $5.76 from Wednesday's closing level, while New York crude was $3.60 higher at $101.70 per barrel.
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