Oil prices edged higher on Tuesday, staying near their strongest levels in three-and-a-half-years as investors fretted over the future output from Venezuela and Iran.
New York-traded WTI crude futures tacked on 35 cents, or roughly 0.5 percent, to $72.70 a barrel by 0740GMT on Investing.com, a level last seen in November 2014.
Meanwhile, Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., ticked up 53 cents, or about 0.7 percent, to $79.75 a barrel, not far from recent highs of $80.50 scaled last week.
Oil prices rallied on Monday over concerns that the U.S. will impose new sanctions on Venezuela after President Nicolas Maduro won a second six-year term in a weekend vote his critics denounced as a farce cementing autocracy in the crisis-stricken oil producer.
Venezuela’s oil output has already dropped by a third in two years to its lowest level in decades.
Concerns that looming U.S. sanctions on Iran will curb that country’s crude exports also boosted prices.
The White House laid out new demands for Iran on Monday, which said any new nuclear deal with the U.S. would require Iran to stop enriching uranium and to pull its support for militant groups in the Middle East.
Iran is a major Middle East oil producer and member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Oil market participants now looked ahead to fresh weekly data on U.S. commercial crude inventories to gauge the strength of demand in the world’s largest oil consumer.
Industry group the American Petroleum Institute is due to release its weekly report at 2030GMT. Official data from the Energy Information Administration will be released Wednesday, amid forecasts for an oil-stock drop of around 2.8 million barrels.
Frontpage September 14, 2018