Oil prices tops US$121 in Asian trade

SINGAPORE, August 22, 2008 (AFP) – World oil prices were higher again in Asian trade Friday after soaring overnight as a crisis deepened between Russia and the West over the invasion of Georgia, analysts said. Venezuela, a member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), said it would ask the cartel at its September meeting to cut production if downward price pressure continued.

New York’s main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in October, was up 26 cents at 121.44 dollars a barrel.

The contract closed up 5.62 dollars to 121.18 dollars a barrel at the close of floor trading on Thursday at the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent North Sea crude for October was 29 cents higher at 120.45 dollars a barrel after settling 5.80 dollars higher at 120.16 Thursday in London.

Jason Feer, of energy market analysts Argus Media in Singapore, said at least part of the rise was due to continuing tensions over Russia’s invasion of Georgia on August 8.

“The markets had sort of assumed that this would all be over reasonably soon,” he said.

Russia, now the world’s biggest producer of crude oil, said it was set to withdraw its forces from Georgia o