Crude oil prices rose on Monday as investors braced for a possible escalation in Ukraine's civil conflict and the European Union expanded sanctions to Russian individuals and Crimean companies.
Though it is unlikely the turmoil would lead to a disruption in energy supplies from Russia, top global oil exporter Saudi Arabia volunteered to supply more crude in the event of a shortage. Pro-Moscow rebels claimed a resounding victory on Sunday in a referendum in eastern Ukraine, with some saying that meant independence and maybe eventual union with Russia as clashes broke out between separatists and troops.
The European Union agreed to impose sanctions on two Crimean companies and 13 more Russians and Ukrainians on Monday, although the measures still fall far short of Washington's sanctions against 17 companies passed in March and April.
Brent crude for June delivery was up 50 cents over $108, paring early gains and off a 1-1/2-week high around $109 reached on Friday. U.S. June crude gained 60 cents to end at $100.59 a barrel after peaking above that level in the prior session, also a 1-1/2-week top.
Gains in Brent were capped as Libya announced its western oilfields and pipelines will reopen on Monday evening after protesters ended their blockade of key infrastructure, potentially raising Libyan output by 500,000 barrels per day.
U.S. crude futures remain in a trading range between $98 and $102 per barrel with expectations for a further draw at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point proving supportive for the contract.
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