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    Crude Oil Hits $100

    Supply concerns, record demand cause oil prices to hit new high.

    NEW YORK -- Crude oil prices hit a record $100 a barrel for the first time yesterday, a sign of the struggle between supply and demand, Bloomberg News reported.

    The new high, which extends the 57 percent rise in prices during 2007, was ignited by speculation that U.S. inventory dropped to a three-year-low last week, along with geopolitical tensions in Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, the report stated.

    Crude oil for February delivery rose $4.02, or 4.2 percent, to $100 a barrel around noon yesterday, the highest since trading began in 1983, Bloomberg News reported.

    The ever-increasing demand also spurs prices upward. China has more than doubled oil use since crude dropped to this century's low of $16.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Nov. 19, 2001, according to the report.

    In addition, a dispute over nuclear development between the U.S. and Iran, an Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member, contributed to the surge in price, the report stated.

    Meanwhile, in Nigeria, militants continue to attack oil installations and kidnap foreign workers, which forced Royal Dutch Shell to halt about 500,000 barrels a day of output, the report stated. In addition, Venezuelan production fell to approximately 2.42 million barrels a day from almost 3 million barrels a day in 2002, according to Bloomberg's estimates.

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