© Reuters/Ismail ZitounyLibyan leader Muammar Gaddafi attends a ceremony marking the birth of Islam's Prophet Mohammed in Tripoli, February 13, 2011.

Both Libya and Venezuela denied on Monday reports that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was seeking asylum after revolt reached Tripoli and would join his friend President Hugo Chavez in the South American oil producer.

Adding to media rumors, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said earlier on Monday he had seen information to suggest Gaddafi had fled Libya and was on his way to Venezuela, a fellow OPEC member.

But Venezuela's information minister said the leader who has ruled Libya for more than 40 years was not coming.

"He is not traveling to Venezuela," Information Minister Andres Izarra told Reuters in Caracas.

His comments were matched by the Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Kayem, who said the reports were "groundless."

Attracted to Gaddafi's revolutionary past, the socialist Chavez also casts himself as an anti-U.S. stalwart on the international stage, and the pair enjoy warm ties.

Gaddafi's rule appeared in increasing jeopardy on Monday as anti-government protests reached the capital Tripoli for the first time, leaving dozens dead at the hands of the security forces.

Diplomats said the information Hague referred to was separate from reports in recent days by several Arab media organizations that Gaddafi was headed to Venezuela.

Chavez, a popular figure in much of the Muslim world who took office 12 years ago, has visited Libya half a dozen times. Gaddafi traveled to Venezuela in 2009 and gave Chavez one of the large tents he holds court in on foreign visits.

Some of Venezuela's opposition would like to see Chavez toppled in protests inspired by the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, but most politicians want to focus on beating him at the ballot box at 2012 presidential elections.

Major street unrest led to a short-lived coup against Chavez in 2002, but protests have since been mainly subdued.

Libya is Africa's fourth biggest oil exporter, while Venezuela is South America's top exporter of crude.

Brent oil futures surged to more than $105 a barrel for the first time since 2008 on Monday on fears the violence in Libya could lead to wider supply disruptions from the OPEC member.

Venezuelan officials seemed surprised by the rumor Gaddafi might come, although Chavez is famous for taking unexpected decisions.