Oil prices fell on Friday, but Brent crude was on track for a sixth straight week of gains, boosted by plummeting Venezuelan production, strong global demand and looming U.S. sanctions on Iran, a Reuters report said.
Brent futures LCOc1 for July delivery fell 26 cents, 0.3 percent, to $79.04 a barrel, by 1:08 p.m. EDT (1708 GMT). The global benchmark on Thursday broke through $80 for the first time since November 2014, and investors anticipate more gains due to supply concerns, at least in the short-term. Brent has gained about 20 percent since the start of the year.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 for June delivery dropped 21 cents to $71.28 a barrel, a 0.3 percent loss. The contract was on track for a third straight week of gains.
“Oil prices are in overbought territory, which has prompted some profit taking in today’s trading session ahead of the weekend,” said Abhishek Kumar, senior energy analyst at Interfax Energy’s Global Gas Analytics in London.
Traders were looking ahead to Venezuela’s election on Sunday, which could then trigger additional U.S. sanctions if President Nicolas Maduro is re-elected for a six-year term, though the opposition party has largely boycotted and two of his most popular opponents have been banned from running.
The process has been has been criticized by the United States, the European Union and major Latin America countries.
Further sanctions could hurt Venezuelan oil supply further, already reeling from lack of maintenance and state-run PDVSA’s inability to pay its bills. Most recently, the company elected to close its refinery in Curacao after ConocoPhillips has seized oil as it seeks to collect on a $2 billion court award.