Oil prices have increased due to growing fears regarding a potential drop in Venezuela’s crude output after the country witnessed a disputed presidential election.

The spike in prices was also supported by concerns that the US could impose sanctions on the OPEC-member.

Brent crude futures jumped 15 cents, or 0.2%, to reach $79.37 per barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures soared 21 cents, or 0.3%, to trade at $72.45, according to Reuters.

Last week, Brent breached the $80 a barrel mark for the first time in more than three and a half years.

Analysts expect oil prices to rise further as the US has toughened its stance on Iran that will see the enforcement of further restrictions on the country’s crude oil exports.

New demands made by the US require the Middle East to abandon its nuclear programme and withdraw from the Syrian civil war.

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By GlobalData
“Political and economic crisis in Venezuela has resulted in its output declining by a third in two years to its lowest in decades.”

These demands have been set as pre-conditions to prevent severe economic sanctions.

Mitsubishi oil risk manager Tony Nunan was quoted by the news agency as saying: “(Oil inventory) is tight and the US will probably tighten sanctions on Venezuela, which will make the Venezuela situation worse and which means we can expect continued falling Venezuelan production.

“Combined with expectations for falling Iranian production as the US pressures allies to reduce their imports, this will push crude oil prices up to $80 a barrel and we think it can go higher.”

Political and economic crisis in Venezuela has resulted in its output declining by a third in two years to its lowest in decades.

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro was re-elected in a weekend vote.

The re-election was widely condemned by critics who labelled it as a farce.

In this backdrop, the country risks the imposition of new oil sanctions by the US.