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Prices of heavier US grades like Mars Sour, an offshore medium USA crude, and Heavy Louisiana Sweet crude have risen as buyers scramble for supply.

Brent crude oil futures were at $61.51 a barrel, up 42 cents.

According to the Weekly Petroleum Status Report released by EIA on Wednesday, U.S. crude oil imports averaged 7.5 million barrels per day last week, down by 319,000 barrels per day from the previous week, while crude oil exports averaged 3 million barrels per day last week, up by 901,000 barrels per day from the previous week.

The driver of Friday's trading activity was said to be the USA signalling that it may impose sanctions on Venezuelan exports after recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president this week, prompting president Nicholas Maduro to cut ties with Washington. However, this bullish view is eclipsed by the above mentioned possibility of a slowdown in the global economy and fears of a supply glut on the back of increasing United States oil production.

But supply is tighter for heavy crude oil, which is what the USA imports from Venezuela.

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With Iran already crippled by US sanctions, a drop in Venezuelan exports could squeeze global supply. "Looking ahead, consumer prices will rise 10 million percent in 2019, according the report".

The leading USA heavy-oil benchmark, Mars, rose US$1.10 to US$60.98 in spot markets on Friday, Bloomberg reported.

Developments in Venezuela take on an even greater importance for the oil market considering that the country holds the rotating presidency of OPEC this year, analysts stressed.

The bosses of USA companies Occidental Petroleum and Hess Corp, attending a session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, said growth in US shale oil output would slow. The price collapse in 2014 was a major hit to both PDVSA and the Venezuelan government, which relies on it for revenue. "Venezuelan production will decline by an additional 300,000-500,000 barrels per day (bpd) this year but such punitive measures could expand that outage by several hundred thousand barrels".

Quoting the Annual Statistical Bulletin of the Organization of the Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC), the "NDTV" had stated that Venezuela had 296.5 billion barrels of oil under its control. One proposal would see Washington declare that any payment to Venezuela in return for oil must go to the new government, or perhaps some form of humanitarian account to help feed the country's starving people. But the two countries have long history of interdependency when it comes to oil that has endured through years of political tensions.


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