Arab unrest can double oil prices, says British minister

2011-03-05 07:49

London – The price of a barrel of crude oil could double if the unrest in the Arab world deteriorates, oil-trader-turned-British-international-development-minister Alan Duncan warned today.

Duncan, who has 30 years’ business experience in the Gulf, told The Times newspaper that the price of a barrel of crude could top $200 (R1 376), well above the record high of $147 reached in July 2008.

If extremists used the instability in the Arab world to bomb oil tankers, pipelines or Saudi reserves, prices could even hit $250 a barrel, Duncan said.

The Times said analysts fear such highs could trigger another recession in Britain.

“I’ve been saying in government for two months that $200 is on the cards if this goes wrong, if anyone is reckless and foments unrest. All I’m predicting is danger,” said Duncan.

“It could be very serious. If crude oil doubles, you’re going to have a very serious spike (in petrol prices). Try living without it for a week.”

The British government is under pressure over the price at the pumps, with 63% of the cost going to the exchequer.

If the worst happened, current prices of £1.30 (R14.55) a litre at the pump “could look like a luxury”, Duncan said, warning of £4 a litre.

“A Twittered-up generation now has massive power. All Arab countries are moving on. But they are all different,” he said.

“The powers are shifting but you can’t do it overnight. We are asking them to do at the flick of a switch what we took centuries to do.

“The majority of these rulers are not dictators. These are countries with their own history and cultures. Who are we to lecture? We must treat these countries with respect.”

The people who want all unelected leaders to go should remember Iran, Duncan said.

“It didn’t work with the shah, we must pray it works in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

“At the moment this is secular, economic and demographic but if it goes wrong you will see Islamic fundamentalism becoming the only vehicle for people’s grievances,” he warned.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.