Even as the most active contract for U.S. oil prices hit $100 a barrel for the first time since October 2008, upward momentum in Brent crude prices continues to surpass gains at the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The more than 5 percent surge in Brent crude futures on Wednesday has been amplified not only on the basis of outright supply losses, but concerns that light, sweet Libyan crude is similar in grade to the already tight Brent crude supplies.
The amount of oil produced in Libya is about equal to the amount of oil produced in the Gulf of Mexico. Right now, estimates of the loss of production range from one-half to one-third of daily output, but some analysts see a full halt to production imminent.
"The loss of Libyan oil production is like having a hurricane come through the Gulf, shutting down production, but leaving all the refineries and consumer demand intact," says Houston-based energy analyst Andy Lipow.
There is oil to replace any lost production. At least that's what the International Energy Agency and Saudi Arabia have been saying. But it not be the "right" kind of oil nor will it come soon enough.