NEW YORK, Mar.15 -- U.S. crude oil price gained slightly on Monday after a choppy trading session as concerns about the Middle East remained amid the lower demand expectation caused by the Japan's disaster.
Prices pared earlier losses on news Saudi Arabia sent troops into neighbor country Bahrain to help put down weeks of protests. Concerns about the unrest in the region came back to the markets focus and lifted the prices.
"The oil markets are now very sensitive to the news from the Middle East, every headline matters," said Raymond Carbone, the senior crude trader at the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Earlier on Monday, the crude prices tumbled as the world's third largest crude consumer Japan was hit by the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Refiners on the quake-hit coast have shut down, causing demand drop in short term.
"But in long run, the oil price will go up, because the quake- hit areas need reconstruction, that will boost the oil demand," Carbone said.
In Japan, authorities scrambled to avert a meltdown at a stricken nuclear plant after a hydrogen explosion at one reactor and exposure of fuel rods at another.
Light, sweet crude for April delivery gained 3 cents to settle at 101.19 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude for April delivery fell 17 cents to settle at 113.67 dollars a barrel.