Oil prices down after Crimea votes to split from Ukraine

PABLO GORONDI, Associated Press
People talk about developments in Ukraine at a central square next to a statue of Soviet revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin in Donetsk, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.The Group of 7 world leaders said in a statement released from the White House on Wednesday that they won't recognize results of a referendum for the Crimea region to split from Ukraine and join Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Copyright 2014, The Associated Press

The price of oil fell Monday near $98 a barrel after Crimea voted to split from Ukraine and join Russia, a development already anticipated by investors. The vote triggered sanctions by the EU and U.S. against Russia, but none that affected the country's energy industry.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery fell 81 cents to close at $98.08 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, dropped $1.97 to $106.24 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Crimea's parliament on Monday declared the region an independent state, following its residents' overwhelming decision in a referendum held Sunday to break away from Ukraine and seek to join Russia. The United States, the European Union and others said the vote violated the Ukrainian constitution and international law.

EU foreign ministers announced travel bans and asset freezes on 21 individuals seen pushing for the secession and possible annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. While Russia is a major oil and gas producer, sanctions are not seen stretching that far for now.

For Russia, around 70 percent of export revenues come from energy sales, analysts said.

Natural gas rose 11 cents to $4.54 per 1,000 cubic feet(28.32 cubic meters) as forecasts call for cooler than normal temperatures in the northern parts of the United States through the end of March.

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