(EnergyAsia, April 26 2011, Tuesday) — Brent crude oil is expected to trade at a record average US$100 a barrel this year on robust economic growth in emerging markets, the declining value of the US dollar and the loss of Libya’s oil, said various analysts.
 
Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the most bullish, giving a 30% chance for the benchmark to reach US$160 a barrel in the coming two months.
 
The bank said Brent crude may average $122 a barrel this quarter and “briefly” break through $140 in the third quarter given the rising political risks in the Middle East and North Africa.
 
While oil reached an all-time high of over US$147 a barrel in July 2008, it plunged for the rest of the year, touching a low of US$32 a barrel five months later to bring down the average price for the year to around US$99 a barrel. That record stood intact in 2009 and 2010.
 
Analysts now feel oil is ready to permanently top US$100 a barrel, starting this year. The March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan has been cited as a new support factor as the country has lost more than 20% of its nuclear power capacity and will be forced to import more oil, gas and coal to offset the loss of its Fukushima nuclear reactors.