NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Oil prices rose to their highest levels since September 2008 Wednesday as traders continue to worry that Libyan unrest could spread across the Middle East.
The benchmark U.S. oil contract, West Texas Intermediate, rose $2.60, or 2.6%, to settle at $102.23 a barrel for April delivery.
Brent crude, the main oil contract in Europe and other parts of the world, was down 28 cents to $115.74 a barrel.
Earlier this week, oil prices eased off the record highs hit during last week's volatile trading. But renewed geopolitical concerns reignited the surge on Wednesday.
The recent run-up in prices has been driven by violence in Libya, where rebels and forces loyal to the North African nation's leader, Moammar Gadhafi, continued to escalate Wednesday.
But investors are also nervously watching developments in Iran, the fourth-largest crude exporter in the world, following reports of sporadic protests and clashes with security forces on the streets of the capital, Tehran.
In addition, antigovernment movements have roiled Yemen, Oman, Bahrain and other nations in the region after protesters in Egypt and Tunisia pushed out unpopular leaders earlier this year.
While Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have pledged to increase production, many investors are concerned that unrest in a region that controls much of the world's oil reserves could result in supply disruptions.
"The underlying fear is still that the current unrest will -- or has already started to -- spread to other countries," according to a research report from Cameron Hanover, a firm that specializes in energy price risk management.
However, the amount of oil that has been taken off the world market so far has been relatively minimal. Analysts say global crude supplies remain relatively flush.
Meanwhile, gas prices continued to move higher, rising for the eighth day in a row.
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||4.05%||3.96%|
|15 yr fixed||3.41%||3.30%|
|30 yr refi||4.03%||3.95%|
|15 yr refi||3.38%||3.27%|
Today's featured rates:
More than 5% of DACA recipients have started their own businesses since enrolling the program, according to a recent survey. More
Thousands of the world's richest and most powerful people are preparing for a pilgrimage to Davos. Why are they going? More
Amazon has announced its list of 20 cities that are finalists to host its second headquarters. But who will -- and who should -- win? More
In 1998, Ntsiki Biyela won a scholarship to study wine making. Now she's about to launch her own brand. More
Though many popular budgeting programs are set up to help you allocate your money by the month, you'll gain greater control by budgeting weekly. More