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Oil rises past $99 amid new US sanctions on Russia

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The price of oil rose above $99 a barrel on Friday as the U.S. and the European Union expanded sanctions against Russia and warned of possible penalties against its energy sector.

By mid-afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery was up 49 cents at $99.39 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Thursday, the Nymex contract dropped 27 cents to settle at $98.90.

Sanctions in response to Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine grew to include a bank and 20 individuals considered close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, such as his chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, and Gennady Timchenko, a businessman with interests in the energy sector.

"Adding Timchenko on the U.S. sanctions list was a first step in the oil direction that is not without risk for Europe," said Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix in Switzerland. "We need to add a risk premium to oil prices as U.S. sanctions start to get closer to Russian oil and gas."

Oil prices were held in check by data showing that U.S. crude supplies rose by nearly 6 million barrels in the week ended March 14. Oil production continues to rise, but refineries are converting less of it to gasoline and diesel because they're undergoing seasonal maintenance.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was up 91 cents to $107.36 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

— Wholesale gasoline added 1.88 cents to $2.9077 a gallon.

— Heating oil gained 1.69 cents to $2.93 a gallon.

— Natural gas dropped 4.6 cents to $4.323 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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