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Oil futures edge higher as investors weigh Russia sanctions

An oil pump works at sunset in the desert oil fields of Sakhir, Bahrain, Jan. 22, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Hasan Jamali

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An oil pump works at sunset in the desert oil fields of Sakhir, Bahrain, Jan. 22, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Hasan Jamali

The price of oil crept higher on Tuesday as investors weighed sanctions by the U.S. and allies against Russia over Ukraine.

Benchmark U.S. crude for June delivery rose 18 cents to US$101.02 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 24 cents to settle at $100.84 on Monday.

Brent crude, an international benchmark used to price oil used by many U.S. refineries, rose 37 cents to $108.37 in London. It was rebounding after tumbling $1.46, or 1.3 per cent, the day before on expectations of higher exports from Libya.

Energy trading in Asia was subdued as markets in Japan were closed for a holiday and ahead of another holiday on Thursday in many other countries across the region.

Investors were assessing the impact of new sanctions by the United States and its European allies on more than two dozen government officials, executives and companies in Russia, a major energy producer. The sanctions were not as harsh as feared, with no public companies or major sectors of the economies affected.

"While the crisis has had limited impact on energy flows so far, the tensions may presage a period of volatile geopolitics in the former Soviet Union," analysts at Barclay's wrote in a report.

In other energy futures trading:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.3 cents to $2.9898 a gallon.

— Heating oil fell 0.4 cents to $2.949 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 0.3 cents to $4.77 per 1,000 cubic feet.

(TSX:ECA, TSX:IMO, TSX:SU, TSX:HSE, NYSE:BP, NYSE:COP, NYSE:XOM, NYSE:CVX, TSX:CNQ, TSX:TLM, TSX:COS.UN, TSX:CVE)

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