The price of oil continued to climb on Friday, reaching nearly US$104 a barrel on concerns that the tensions over Ukraine and new sanctions against Russia could disrupt global supplies. Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery was up 51 cents to US$103.94 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped US$1.99 the previous day to close at US$103.19. Brent crude for September delivery, a benchmark for international oils, rose 43 cents to US$108.62 on the ICE exchange in London. A series of geopolitical events pushed prices higher by raising concern that oil supplies could become tighter, even though no disruptions were imminent. The Obama Administration announced new sanctions against Russian energy companies late Wednesday, including against Rosneft, Russia’s biggest oil producer.
The crash of a Malaysian Airlines passenger plane over Ukraine, which Ukrainian officials said was shot down, raised the risk of a sharper conflict between Ukraine and Russia that could lead to even tighter Western sanctions against Moscow. And fighting in the Gaza strip intensified after a shaky cease-fire expired, yet another source of turmoil in the Middle East, the world’s most important oil-producing region. In other Nymex trading: — Wholesale gasoline added 0.5 cent to US$2.862 a gallon. — Natural gas rose 0.6 cent to US$3.96 per 1,000 cubic feet. — Heating oil rose 0.7 cent to US$2.879 a gallon.