Amid rising concerns about the risk of a prolonged disruption in Libyan oil exports, crude-oil inventories in Europe and elsewhere warrant close scrutiny from market participants, reports the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The loss of Libyan crude oil supply will likely be partly offset by two factors: on the supply side, higher exports from Saudi Arabia and other producers; on the demand front, a temporary reduction in Asian consumption following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Even so, the loss of Libyan supply is likely to draw down European stocks, at least temporarily, given the expected lag in alternative supplies, EIA says.

For the week ending March 14, the average price at retail for a gallon of regular in the U.S. was up almost 5¢ from the week before settling at $3.57/gal., or 78¢ higher than the year-ago price. Meanwhile, the average U.S. retail price for a gallon of diesel fuel was $3.91, up from $3.87 the week before but 99¢ higher than a year ago.