The price of oil rose to near US$102 a barrel Thursday on worries about tensions in Ukraine.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for June delivery rose 50 cents to close at US$101.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, an international benchmark, gained $1.22 to US$110.33 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Ukraine is going through its biggest political crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union. Ukrainian forces launched an operation Thursday to drive pro-Russia insurgents out of occupied buildings in the country’s tumultuous east. In response, Russia’s defence minister announced new military exercises for troops massed near Ukraine’s border.

Gains for U.S. crude oil were limited because of bulging oil supplies.

The U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that oil supplies rose 3.5 million barrels in the week that ended April 18. That exceeded the expectations of analysts surveyed by Platts, who forecast an increase of 3.1 million barrels. At a record 397.7 million barrels, supplies are now 2.3 per cent above year-earlier levels.

In other energy futures trading in New York, wholesale gasoline was flat at US$3.09 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), heating oil rose three cents to US$3.01 a gallon and natural gas fell 2.5 cents to US$4.705 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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