U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $53.70 per barrel, up 57 cents. Venezuela gets about half of its diluents from the United States and often secures supplies through crude oil swaps, according to Grais-Targow.
An unexpected rise in USA crude inventories reported the day before eclipsed possible US sanctions on the Venezuelan oil sector.
USA energy firms this week increased the number of oil rigs operating for the first time this year. It is also considering sanctions on oil deliveries, a move it has until now resisted, energy company sources told Reuters on Wednesday. Even without new US sanctions, Venezuela's production - now about 1.2 million barrels a day - may lose a further 300,000 to 500,000 barrels a day, RBC Capital Markets estimates.
"The chances for another down-day are not bad at all if you believe the confirmation of last night's (U.S. inventory) stats by the EIA this afternoon will actually put further downward pressure on prices". The International Energy Agency said in September that the global oil supply reached 100 million barrels a day for the first time ever in August, boosted by rising production in the USA and several OPEC nations.
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President Donald Trump Wednesday officially recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president of oil-rich Venezuela, and declared sitting president Nicolás Maduro as illegitimate.
The U.S. government could lessen the blow by phasing in restrictions on Venezuelan oil imports in a way that mirrors the trend U.S. refineries have already always been adjusting to, said John Auers, executive vice president of the refining consultancy Turner, Mason & Company.
But it's not supply, demand, sanctions on Iran's oil industry or political upheaval in oil producer Venezuela that the chief executive of Total is anxious about.
The ongoing OPEC+ agreement to curb oil output remains the nearly exclusive source of support for prices. The global benchmark crude has dropped 1.9 percent so far this week.
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The supply of global oil is also being closely watched by oil market analysts with the growth in production of USA shale oil also a pressure on prices.
The latest API data released showed that the U.S. crude inventories increased 6.6 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations for a decrease of 42,000 barrels, Reuters reports. Gas Energy's report said India was the second-largest importer of Venezuelan crude in November.
"The main risk for the oil market is the situation in the Middle East because this is the big area of production, not only in Saudi Arabia but in the UAE and Kuwait". In the event that a reformist government comes to power, the road back for Venezuela will be extremely arduous given the depths of the economic and humanitarian disaster.
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