Oil prices increased today over renewed Ukraine tensions, which raised the risk of disruption to energy supplies.
Brent crude rose by 38 cents to $108.27 a barrel, while US oil increased by 14 cents to settle at $100.13, reported Reuters.
Crude prices rose after pro-Moscow rebels claimed a resounding victory in Sunday’s referendum in eastern Ukraine, with nearly 90% voting in favour of self-rule for the region.
The European Union (EU) is considering strengthening the sanctions that it placed on Russia after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region following a similar vote in March, and has called Sunday’s referendum illegal.
A meeting between foreign ministers from the 28-nation bloc are due to meet on Monday for finalising the addition of approximately 15 people and several Crimean-based companies to its list of 48 Russians and Ukrainians already targetted with asset freezes and visa bans.
But further rises in oil prices were cut after Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said that the country is willing to supply oil if there are shortages due to the tensions over Ukraine.
Oil traders are waiting for China’s industrial production and retail sales data, which is scheduled to come out on Tuesday.
Investors are also keeping an eye on Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency meeting, which is scheduled later today in the Austrian capital Vienna, a day before discussions resume between Tehran and six western nations over Iran’s nuclear programme.
These two sets of discussions are separate but closely linked, as both focus on fears that Iran may be covertly seeking the capability to develop nuclear weapons.
Oil prices will ramp-up if there is any sign of progress towards a final resolution to the West’s dispute with Tehran.
Image: EU could strengthen sanctions over growing Ukraine crisis. Photo: courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/ Feelart.