Ukraine tensions hike oil prices

Brent crude prices increase by 1.6 percent, more than US$2 per barrel on Monday

Brent crude prices increase by 1.6 percent, more than US$2 per barrel on Monday

ISTANBUL - Brent crude oil prices have increased by 1.6 percent, more than US$2 per barrel, on Monday, in response to rising tension in Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that Moscow had the right to “defend Russian interests” in the Crimea region.

Russia, which is a major regional supplier of gas and oil, secured permission from its parliament on Saturday to use military force in the Crimea, which has a majority ethnic-Russian population in conflict with the interim government in Kiev.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned of visa bans, asset freezes and trade restrictions against Russia, which he accused of "19th century" behavior in Ukraine.

Since Russia’s declaration, Brent crude oil has hit a session peak of US$111.38 per barrel, having closed at US$109.11 per barrel on Friday. U.S. West Texas crude oil prices have jumped to US$104.65 a barrel, the highest since September 23 last year; it closed at US$102.68 on Friday.

Analysts claim that if the West Texas oil prices stay over US$104 then they could shortly increase beyond the US$106 mark.

Russia is the world`s biggest oil producer, exporting more than 5 million barrels of crude oil a day. It currently supplies 25 percent of Europe`s gas imports, and many European countries rely almost entirely on Moscow for their imported gas.

Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom sold 162.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe last year; the supply of Russian natural gas to Europe grew by 16 percent in 2013.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency