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IEA watching Libyan unrest closely

Feb. 22, 2011 at 8:43 AM
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PARIS, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- The International Energy Agency said Tuesday it was ready to intervene should the market prove unable to cope with unrest in Libya.

Major international energy companies from BP to Marathon and Russian energy company Gazprom are evacuating non-essential staff members from Libya as protests threaten to bring down another long-standing regime in the Middle East.

The IEA said at the height of the Egyptian revolution that forced Hosni Mubarak from power that oil supplies were sufficient. The international policy adviser said the worst case scenario for Egypt was shipping delays through the Suez Canal.

Most energy companies during the Egyptian crisis said the political upheaval wasn't affecting their work. That doesn't appear to be the case in Libya, however, as the unrest there helped pushed oil prices to two-year highs.

The IEA said the crisis in Libya didn't warrant intervention but the situation was worth closely monitoring.

"The IEA stands ready, as always, to make oil available to the market in the event of a major supply disruption if alternative supplies cannot readily be made available via normal market mechanisms," the agency said in a statement.

The U.S. Energy Information Agency ranks Egypt 27th in terms of oil production. Libya, however, has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa and ranks 17th in terms of world oil producers.

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