On Wednesday, February 23, 2011, the price of Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose $4.59 to $100.01 dollars per barrel, with Nomura Securities predicting a "worst case scenario" rise in prices to $220 dollars per barrel. Today's rise of crude prices to over $100 per barrel exceeds previously established record breaking highs occurring during October 2008. Additionally, prices for Brent crude oil, which generally reflects global demand, surpassed the $100 dollar per barrel mark on January 31, 2011 and rose to $112 dollars per barrel today.
Crude oil prices have risen due to growing political and economic instability world wide. As protesters clash and violent chaos continues within Libya, oil production operations have ground to a halt. Nomura Securities, an investment bank, have predicted that if Algeria joins Libyan forces, oil prices could rise to a "worst case scenario" $220 dollars per barrel. Nomura cited the 1990-1991 Gulf War Conflict to support the potential rise in crude oil, claiming that despite active speculation during the era, crude prices rose 130%. Normura issued a statement which read: "we could be underestimating this as speculative activities were largely not present in 1990-91.
Algeria and Libya produce an estimated 4 million barrels of oil per day, with Saudi Arabian oil fields producing an estimated 8 million barrels of oil per day. Experts have dismissed Nomura's speculations but warn that oil prices could remain at extremely high levels for "years."