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Oil nears highest level in 5 months amid US sanctions


Oil prices are nearing a five-month high on Tuesday as markets continue to wane amid cuts in OPEC-led supplies, US sanctions against Iran and Venezuela and spiraling violence in Libya, Reuters has reported.

Brent crude futures were the strongest since November at $71.34 a barrel, before falling to $70.99 a barrel.

US WTI crude futures were also their highest since November 2018 at $64.77 a barrel before falling to $64.42 a barrel.

Oil markets have been battered this year as the United States imposed sanctions on Iran and oil-exporting Venezuela, while the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) curbs supplies to support prices.

Brent and Western Texas Intermediate futures have risen 40 percent and 30 percent respectively since the start of the year.

Goldman Sachs said a shortage in oil supplies began early this year.

"We expect the deficit to continue in the second quarter of 2019," the bank said in a note, "because of shock and apprehension about the implementation of OPEC cuts ... and further tightening of US oil sanctions and only a limited increase in oil production this year so far."

Goldman Sachs said it expected Brent crude to average $72.50 a barrel in the second quarter, up from a previous forecast of $ 65 a barrel.

Prices rose further this week due to escalating violence in Libya, an important oil supplier to Europe, which produced about 1.1 million barrels per day of crude oil in March.