The price of oil soared to above $102 US a barrel Wednesday for the first time in over a year as Egypt's political crisis intensified, raising the risk of fuel supply disruptions in the Suez Canal.

A report showing an unexpectedly large fall in U.S. stockpiles of crude oil also helped boost prices.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for August delivery was up $1.86 at $101.46 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, having risen as high as $102.18 earlier in the session. On Tuesday, the contract gained $1.61, or 1.6 per cent.

Embattled Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi vowed not to resign hours before a deadline to yield to the demands of millions of protesters or see the military suspend the constitution, disband parliament and install a new leadership.

The Islamist leader demanded that the powerful armed forces withdraw their ultimatum, saying he rejected all "dictates" — from home or abroad. On the streets, the sense that both sides are ready to fight to the end sharpened, with clashes between Morsi's supporters and opponents killing at least 23 people, most of them in a single incident of fighting outside Cairo University.