LONDON : The price of New York's main oil benchmark hit a nine-month peak on Monday, as traders worried that the Syria crisis could hit supplies from the crude-rich Middle East, analysts said. Syria is expected to top the agenda at the Group of Eight (G8) meeting of world leaders taking place Monday in Northern Ireland. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for delivery in August, reached $98.67 a barrel, a level last seen in September 2012.
At the same time, Brent North Sea crude for August climbed to $106.67 a barrel, the highest point since April 4, 2013.
Brent later stood at $106.26 in London midday deals, up 33 cents compared with Friday's close. New York crude traded 62 cents higher at $98.47 a barrel.
"Syria is not a major oil producing country, yet the potential for spillages into neighbouring countries has spooked the markets somewhat," said analyst Joshua Mahony at traders Alpari.
Prices had also advanced on Friday after US officials said they had evidence of the use of chemical weapons by forces backing Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and signalled that Washington could begin arming the opposition.
"The oil price is currently being driven primarily by geopolitical aspects," said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.
"The decision of the US to supply arms to the rebels in Syria threatens finally to turn the civil war in Syria into a proxy war between the world powers, given that Russia is providing military support to the Assad regime.
"This is also bound to be on the agenda of the G8 summit that begins in Northern Ireland today," he added.
US President Barack Obama and world leaders arrived in the British province looking to put pressure on Russia to back away from its support of Assad.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said his priority for the meeting was to ensure a peace conference on the Syria conflict takes place later this year.
But amid rising tensions over Syria, talks between Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin were set to be prickly, with both leaders offering military support to opposing sides in the war.
Market attention was also on the Federal Reserve and the US central bank's upcoming monetary policy meeting.
Its Federal Open Market Committee, which sets the benchmark US dollar interest rate, meets on Tuesday and Wednesday and investors are expecting greater clarity on whether it will hold down long-term rates with its $85 billion-a-month bond buying programme.
Uncertainty remains over its monetary stimulus programme -- known as quantitative easing (QE) and markets took a knock last month after the Fed signalled that it could taper its massive stimulus measures sooner rather than later, if economic conditions improved.
"The key element this week is the Fed monetary policy meeting on Wednesday that will clarify the current US economic prospects," said Sucden brokers analyst Myrto Sokou.
"Investors should remain cautious amid signs that the Fed could decrease its bond buying programme, while all eyes will be on any indications about a possible timeframe about a halt of its QE programme within 2013," she noted.