The price of oil edged up closer to $103 a barrel Wednesday amid unrest in eastern Ukraine, even as a report showed a large rise in U.S. crude stockpiles.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude oil for May delivery was up 25 cents to $102.81 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $2.12 to $102.56 on Tuesday.
Brent crude, used to set prices for international oil varieties, was up 31 cents to $107.98 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Traders are uneasy about the potential for disruption of supplies due to instability in eastern Ukraine and more sanctions on Russia, a crucial supplier of oil and natural gas to Europe. Pro-Russian separatists have seized government buildings in several cities in Ukraine’s industrial east in the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Meanwhile, the announced reopening of four Libyan export terminals could turn out to be a drawn-out process, meaning it is unlikely to boost supplies imminently, analysts concluded.
Prices also rose despite a report of surging U.S. crude stockpiles. The industry-funded American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude stocks expanded by 7.1 million barrels last week, while a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., had predicted a rise of 2.5 million barrels.
Data from the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration — the market benchmark — will be out later Wednesday.
In other energy futures trading in New York:
— Wholesale gasoline added 0.93 cent to $2.9894 a gallon.
— Natural gas rose 1.4 cents to $4.548 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil gained 0.7 cent to $2.9414 a gallon.