Oil prices in New York have finished essentially flat as a bearish US oil inventory report offset concerns that rising political tensions in Ukraine could affect energy supplies.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for May delivery edged up by a penny to $US103.76 ($A111.23) a barrel on Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
European benchmark Brent oil for June delivery advanced 24 cents to $US109.60 a barrel in London on the Intercontinental Exchange.
The political crisis over Ukraine propelled oil prices higher in the early part of the day.
An effort by Ukrainian forces to reassert control over the country’s eastern regions collapsed in the face of pro-Russian resistance, a day ahead of international talks in Geneva on the escalating crisis.
Traders fear that any full-scale armed conflict in the region would disrupt supplies and send oil and gas prices rocketing because Ukraine is a major conduit for Russian gas to Western Europe.
A failure of Thursday’s talks could also result in another round of western sanctions against Russia.
But US oil prices retreated from a one-month high after the release of the US Energy Information Administration’s weekly oil inventory report.
The EIA said commercial stocks rose 10 million barrels, far above the 1.5-million-barrel gain projected by analysts polled by The Wall Street Journal.
The EIA report was “quite bearish,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates, a Houston consultancy.
“It did indeed offset some of the geopolitical concerns over the confrontation we’ve seen in the Ukraine.”