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Oil prices decline as fears over Ukraine ease but remain elevated on Middle East tension

Oil refineries are pictured in Deer Park, Texas on Nov. 10, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, David J. Phillip

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Oil refineries are pictured in Deer Park, Texas on Nov. 10, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, David J. Phillip

Oil prices fell further Monday as concern about Ukraine eased but still were elevated on anxiety about the Middle East.

Prices rose last week on fears stemming from the escalating crisis in Ukraine and Israel's offensive in Gaza, though analysts said the likelihood of disruption in supplies was small.

Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery was down 32 cents to $102.81 per barrel at 0730 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That added to a 6 cent decline on Friday to $103.13.

Brent crude for September delivery, a benchmark for international oils, gave up 30 cents to $106.94 on the ICE exchange in London.

Washington announced new sanctions last Wednesday on Russia, including its biggest oil company, over Moscow's support for separatist forces in Ukraine.

On Thursday, a Malaysia Airlines jetliner was shot down in Ukraine, raising concern a possible Western response might disrupt Russian oil exports, but those fears have eased.

Israel's offensive into Gaza intensified turmoil in the Middle East, the world's most important oil-producing region, rattling markets.

In other Nymex trading:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.3 cent to $2.838 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 7.8 cents to $3.873 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil gained 0.4 cent to $2.862 a gallon.

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