Crude oil prices rise higher above $99 a barrel on South Sudan worry; Brent crude declines

BEIJING, China – Oil prices rose further above $99 on Friday as violence in South Sudan stoked concerns about the African nation’s oil production.

Benchmark U.S. oil for February delivery gained 27 cents to $99.82 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Oil prices gained nearly 3 per cent last week as optimism about the U.S. economic recovery lifted expectations for the country’s energy demand.

Worries over instability in South Sudan have led some analysts to predict the contract may top $100 a barrel for the first time since mid-October. On Tuesday, the U.N. Security Council voted to increase U.N. peacekeeping forces in South Sudan by nearly 80 per cent.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was off 20 cents at $111.78 per barrel in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline shed 1 cent to $2.81 a gallon.

— Heating oil was down 1 cent at $3.08 per gallon.

— Natural gas added 1 cent to $4.42 per 1,000 cubic feet.