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Oil prices increased today, following new US sanctions imposed upon allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Brent crude was up by 29 cents to $108.41 a barrel, while US oil rose by 16 cents to settle at $101 a barrel, reported Reuters.

The move to ban the visas and freeze the assets of Igor Sechin, head of oil firm Rosneft, was criticised by President Barack Obama’s domestic critics, who termed it as a "slap on the wrist."

Another Putin ally, Sergei Chemezov, head of Russian state-owned high-tech products company Rostec, was also sanctioned by the US.

EU states added 15 more Russians and Ukrainians to their blacklist, which will be revealed in the near future.

"According to the Reuters forecast, US commercial crude oil and products inventories are set to rise, which would place pressure on oil prices."

In eastern Ukraine, pro-Moscow rebels are holding a group of German and other OSCE military observers for a fourth day.

Crude prices dropped in the early session as Libyan National Oil Corp (NOC) announced that they were to ease force at the eastern Zueitina oil port, raising hopes of resumption of exports at a second port after a deal with rebels.

According to the Reuters forecast, US commercial crude oil and products inventories are set to rise, which would place pressure on oil prices.

Investors are predicting a further decline in crude stocks at Cushing, Oklahoma, which have already reached a five-year low.


Image: The US imposed sanctions on seven Russian individuals and 17 companies. Photo: courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Victor Habbick.

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