FILE PHOTO: A maze of crude oil pipes and valves is pictured during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, U.S. June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Richard Carson/File Photo
SYDNEY/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose by 1 percent on Friday as turmoil in Venezuela triggered concerns that its oil exports could soon be disrupted.
Washington on Thursday signaled it could impose sanctions on Venezuela’s crude exports as Caracas descends further into political and economic turmoil.
International Brent crude oil futures were at $61.70 a barrel at 0227 GMT, 61 cents, or 1 percent, above their last close.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $53.76 per barrel, up 63 cents, or 1.2 percent.
Amid violent street protests, Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president earlier this week, winning backing from Washington and large parts of Latin America, prompting Nicolas Maduro, the country’s leader since 2013, to break relations with the United States.
Fundamentally, however, global oil markets are still well supplied, thanks in part to surging output in the United States, where crude production rose by more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) last year to a record 11.9 million bpd.
The surge in output has resulted in swelling U.S. fuel inventories.
Gasoline stocks rose for an eighth consecutive week in the week to Jan. 18, by 4.1 million barrels to a record 259.6 million barrels, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a weekly report on Thursday.
Crude inventories rose by 8 million barrels.
Reporting by Colin Packham and henning Gloystein; editing by Richard Pullin