Oil prices increased today after a fresh escalation of the conflict in Libya created concerns over oil supplies.

According to Reuters, Brent crude increased by 54 cents to $107.27 a barrel, while US crude gained 22 cents to $93.65 a barrel.

Crude prices started rising after a report from Libyan officials that the navy opened fire after a Maltese-flagged oil tanker, as it approached to illegally load crude oil at a port that has been controlled for months by armed protesters, who are demanding more autonomy from Tripoli.

Officials also said that the tanker Baku had entered Libyan waters on Sunday, in an attempt to approach the seized port of Es Sider. But the navy fired shots after the vessel refused to stop and instead tried to flee toward Malta.

"The armed forces warned they would not allow any oil tanker to load at ports seized by protesters."

Libyan Defence Ministry and naval officials said the armed forces warned they would not allow any oil tanker to load at ports seized by protesters, after the navy blocked a Maltese-flagged vessel from trying to reach one of the docks on Monday.

Oil prices were also supported by the recent wave of violence in the key oil producing country Iraq and the possibility of increased tensions ahead of parliamentary elections in April 2014.

The crude futures also went up over the concerns about supply as the central US battle through severe cold weather that threatens to curtail some oil production while drilling and fracking operations were interrupted.

Image: Libyan navy opens fire as crude tanker approaches rebel-controlled port. Photo courtesy of Victor Habbick.

Nri energy