updated 3/21/2011 12:56:34 PM ET 2011-03-21T16:56:34

Oil prices climbed Monday as energy experts warned that Libya's oil exports could be off the world market longer than expected, and countries including the U.S. enforced a no-fly zone over Libya.

Traders also fretted about other uprisings in the Middle East and how much they would affect production among OPEC heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Iran.

  1. More must-see stories
    1. The Hartford Courant, Political
      Wild Wall St.

      Has the market volatility got you nervous? These cartoons may give you a little comic relief.

    2. Cyber-thieves create fake Kelley Blue Book site
    3. US says Reebok toning shoes don't really
    4. Can you live on $9 an hour? Play the game

Benchmark West Texas crude for May delivery gained $1.47 at $103.32 per barrel at midday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The April contract, which ends Tuesday, rose $1.36 to $102.43 per barrel.

Prices climbed after another violent weekend in Libya. Moammar Gadhafi vowed a "long war" as allied forces smashed his air defenses. On Monday, a top French official said international intervention could last "awhile."

Oil traders said they're increasingly concerned about political stability in North Africa and the Middle East, which produces 27 percent of the world's oil. The Libyan uprising has halted that country's exports, and experts said it's unclear when oil shipments will resume.

"Markets hate uncertainty," analyst and trader Stephen Schork said. "Could this be a protracted no-fly zone like the one we saw in Iraq" following the Persian Gulf War?

Protests in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria also are destabilizing the Middle East, a region that includes Saudi Arabia and Iran, two of the top three oil exporters in the world. Combined, Saudi Arabia and Iran produce 12.4 million barrels of oil per day.

Analyst Jim Ritterbusch said he expects oil prices will swing up and down this week as traders react to headlines out of the Middle East.

Meanwhile analysts said Japan will increase imports of fossil fuels to replace power lost from nuclear reactors damaged in the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck that country. Several idled oil refineries also were put back online last week.

In other Nymex trading for April contracts, heating oil gained 3 cents at $3.0588 per gallon and gasoline futures added 6 cents at $3.0091 per gallon. Natural gas picked up 4 cents at $4.208 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude rose $1.49 to $115.26 per barrel.

While equity markets were boosted Monday by hopes that Japan was making progress in bringing under control radiation leaks at its Fukushima nuclear power plant, analysts said concerns about lower energy demand from the world's third-largest economy would keep a ceiling over oil prices.

"The Japanese nuclear disaster seems to be coming to a close at an excruciatingly slow pace, meaning that the Japanese economic recovery will likely be slow and torturous," said Edward Meir at MF Global in New York, adding that the situation "will continue to exert a drag on energy prices."

In other Nymex trading for April contracts, heating oil was up 4.45 cents at $3.0688 a gallon and gasoline added 5.41 cents to $3.0035 a gallon. Natural gas gained 4.1 cents at $4.209 per 1,000 cubic feet.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explainer: Overview of Libya's oil resources

  • Image: A Libyan oil worker, works at a refinery inside the Brega oil complex
    AP

    OPEC member Libya is the 17th largest producer in the world, third largest producer in Africa and holds the continent's largest crude oil reserves. It normally pumps around 1.6 million bpd, 85 percent of which is exported to Europe and its output is equivalent to about 2 percent of global oil consumption.

  • Libya's place in the oil producing world

    How the country measures up in crude supplies and production.

  • Exports

    Before the war, Libya was a net exporter with domestic consumption estimated at only around 270,000 bpd.

    Europe was most affected by Libyan oil export disruptions. About 28 percent of Libya's oil went to Italy, 10 percent to Germany, 11 percent to China and France and 3 percent to the United States.

    Libyan oil accounted for about 23 percent of Ireland's oil and about 22 percent of Italy's, according to the IEA.

    Around 13 percent went east of the Suez Canal to Asia.

    The shortfall from the loss of Libyan output was covered by alternative sources such as Nigeria and Azerbaijan, which produce similar light crude oils to Libyan oil.

    Saudi Arabia also brought some it its spare capacity online, according to Saudi sources. The kingdom promised to fill any supply gap caused by the unrest in Libya although it produces heavier crude with higher sulfur content than Libya.

  • Infrastructure

    Reuters

    Oil fields
    Most of Libya's oil fields are located in and around the Sirte Basin, in the northeastern part of the country, which contains around 80 percent of the country's proven reserves.

    Other key areas include the Ghadames Basin, about 240 miles south of Tripoli and Cyrenaica Basin in the northeast and the Murzuq oil field in the desert in the south of the country.

    Libya has five domestic refineries with a combined capacity of 378,000 barrels a day:

    Azzawiya Oil Refining Co
    Sarir Refining
    Sirte Oil Co
    Tobruk Refining
    Ras Lanuf Oil & Gas Processing Co

    Ports
    Libya exported various grades of light crude from six major terminals, five of which are located in the eastern part of the country, where protests erupted near the second city of Benghazi.

    Following are the eastern terminals with pre-war loading volumes in January, 2011 provided by the IEA.

    Es Sider 447,000 barrels per day
    Marsa El Brega 51,000 bpd
    Ras Lanuf 195,000 bpd
    Tobruk 51,000 bpd
    Zueitina 214,000 bpd
    Zawiyah 199,000 bpd (January exports)
    Oother unspecified terminals 333,000 bpd

  • Companies

    Image: Libyan oil worker, works at a refinery inside the Brega oil complex
    AP

    Libya's state company
    Under the Gaddafi regime, Libya’s oil industry was run by the state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC), which was responsible for managing exploration and production sharing agreements with international oil companies. Along with smaller subsidiary companies, the NOC accounted for around 50 percent of the country's oil output.

    Foreign players
    Major oil companies operating in Libya include:

    BP (Great Britain)
    ConocoPhillips (United States)
    Eni (Italy)
    ExxonMobil (United States)
    Hess Corp (United States)
    Marathon (United States)
    Occidental Petroleum (United States)
    OMV (Austria)
    Repsol (Spain)
    Shell (United States)
    Statoil (Norway)
    Wintershall, a unit of BASF (Germany)

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 4.94%
$30K home equity loan FICO 5.19%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.58%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 13.40%
13.40%
Cash Back Cards 17.92%
17.91%
Rewards Cards 17.12%
17.11%
Source: Bankrate.com