Friday PM February 11th, 2011

Oil prices eased today as Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak resigned. But any break from high oil prices is likely to be short lived. That’s the assessment of Amy Myers Jaffe, an energy economist at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. She notes that the last time Egypt experienced a revolution, in 1952, it triggered nearly two decades of upheaval across the Middle East and North Africa.

“We could be seeing social change or political change for the next five or ten years. And as long as we’re having that kind of turmoil, whether it’s controlled turmoil and we’re having a change or ruling systems or whether it’s upheaval, that is going to affect the price of oil for a really long time. I think we’re going to go through a long period where it’s going to be pretty hard, no matter what the market fundamentals are, for the price of oil to come down, because we’re going to see so much upheaval across the Middle East.”

While that could drive the price of oil much higher, Myers Jaffe says it’s unlikely such turmoil will stop the flow of oil from the region altogether.

“The oil industry is incredibly skilled at both staying in a country in turmoil and continuing the oil operations, as we’ve seen so far in Egypt. But all one has to do is look back at the history of Chevron’s activities in Angola, a country which was in years and years of civil war, where practically the entire country was laid to waste, and they barely had an oil disruption whatsoever.”


Nearly 2 million Summer Infant video baby monitors are being recalled after two strangulation deaths. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says electrical cords on the monitors can present a strangulation hazard if placed too close to babies' cribs. The commission says that was the case with a 10-month-old girl from Washington D.C., who died in March and a 6-month-old boy from Conway, South Carolina, who died in November. In all, about 1.7 million monitors — more than 40 different models — are being recalled by Summer Infant of Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Parents are urged to check the location of the monitors to ensure that the cords are out of arm's reach of a child.

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