By Patrice Hill-The Washington Times
Oil prices soared and global stocks plunged Monday on signs that Libya, a major exporter, will cut oil production amid spreading violence and unrest.
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafiâ€˜s son, Seif al-Islam, warned that Libyaâ€˜s oil wealth â€œwill be burnedâ€ if the unrest leads to civil war, while an influential Libyan tribal leader offered a counterthreat to cut off oil shipments to the West within 24 hours if the regimeâ€™s violence against protesters does not end.
The turmoil in Libya sent the price of premium crude oil in London soaring above $105 a barrel, the highest level in 2Â½ years, while stocks throughout Europe fell from 1 percent to 2 percent.
Most U.S. markets were closed for the Presidents Day holiday, but the price of U.S. premium crude surged 5 percent to $90.13 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Officials sought to calm markets by pointing to the worldâ€™s strategic reserves of oil.
International Energy Agency official David Fyfe said the prospect of an interruption in oil production in the Middle East is â€œa real concernâ€ because the region lays claim to 60 percent of the worldâ€™s proven oil reserves and 40 percent of global gas resources.
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