Oil rises on renewed Ukraine tensions

The price of oil edged up closer to $102 a barrel Friday amid renewed tensions in Ukraine.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for June delivery was up 17 cents to $101.67 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Thursday, the Nymex contract fell 87 cents to close at $101.50.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, was up 27 cents to $109.36 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. The gains came in the wake of a warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin that his country wouldn't deliver gas to Ukraine unless it receives payment in advance, part of a dispute over an unpaid energy bill. Ukraine is a major conduit for Russian gas deliveries to Europe and there are fears that potential new sanctions by the West could affect Russia's energy sector.

At the same time, pro-Russian insurgents relinquished control over government buildings in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol as steelworkers and police patrolled the streets to restore order. "The political uncertainty in Ukraine continues to dominate the oil market, providing further support to crude oil prices," said Myrto Sokou from Sucden Financial Research in London.

In other energy futures trading in New York: — Wholesale gasoline added 0.34 cent to $2.9486 a gallon. — Natural gas fell 2.9 cents to $4.44 per 1,000 cubic feet. — Heating oil lost 0.65 cent to $2.9571 a gallon.

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