Oil prices fell by over $1 per barrel to near $99 today, as a third explosion occurred at the Japanese nuclear power plant following the 11 March 2011 earthquake.

US crude for April delivery dropped by $1.69 to stand at $99.50 and Brent fell $1.97 to $111.70 a barrel at 06.00 GMT, reports Reuters.

Japanese equities are spiralling as the country warned of higher radioactive levels around the Fukushima nuclear power plant, dampening sentiment across markets.

Japanese stocks plunged by more than 14% as concerns increase about the economic impact of the nuclear crisis and earthquake.

Demand from Japan, which is the world’s third-largest consumer for oil, may decline in the short term due to the slowing down of the industry as the country recovers from the natural disaster; however, demand may rise with increasing needs for oil-fired power generation and reconstruction efforts.

Investors are also observing developments in the Middle East, where Saudi Arabia sent troops to Bahrain to calm unrest by the Shi’ite Muslim majority.

In Libya, Muammar Gaddafi loyalists bombed rebels pushing them back 100 miles in a week.