Gasoline prices rose by LL500 Thursday with the price of 20 liters of gasoline expected to reach LL40,000 in the coming weeks. The price of 98-octane graded fuel is now LL37,900 while 95-octane graded fuel costs LL37,200, according to the weekly update of prices released by Energy Minister Gebran Bassil. All prices are per 20 liters. Bassil failed Wednesday to sign the weekly update as scheduled raising fear of a return to last year\'s controversy when the energy minister refused for several weeks to sign an update until the government helped citizens deal with surging fuel prices. He signed the update Thursday. The price of kerosene gas also increased by LL300 and now costs LL31,100 while the price of fuel oil now stands at LL29,900 and diesel oil has become LL29,300. Despite a drop in oil prices by nearly two percent this week, prices in international markets have gone up in recent weeks as U.S. and European sanctions aimed at ending Iran’s nuclear ambitions have prompted the Islamic Republic to threaten to close the vital Strait of Hormuz shipping lane. As a result, oil prices have risen 15 percent since January. Brent crude settled at $124.12 a barrel, down $1.59 on the day and off earlier lows of $123.20. U.S. crude fell $2.48 to settle at $105.61 a barrel. Many gas stations around the country complied last week with a strike called by the petroleum sector over demands that the government allow gas stations to double the surcharge they impose on customers. Bassil rejected the demands of the station owners, saying their actions resemble those of a mafia.