Oil prices have hit a two-month high today, lifted by a tightening US crude market and the threat of sanctions against OPEC-member Venezuela.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures briefly jumped over $50 per barrel and were at $49.97 per barrel at 7.54am Irish time, still up 25 cents, or 0.5% from their last close.
That means that virtually the entire WTI curve has moved over $50 per barrel.
Brent crude futures were at $52.85 per barrel, up 33 cents or 0.6%. Prices hit $52.90 per barrel earlier in the day, their highest since 25 May.
The price rises put both crude benchmarks on track for a sixth consecutive session of gains.
Prices have risen around 10% since the last meeting of leading members by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other major producers, including Russia, when the group discussed potential measures to further tighten oil markets.
"US inventories are showing massive drawdowns, Saudi Arabia seems intent on playing its role as the world's swing producer (and) impending sanctions on Venezuela by the US will almost certainly be oil price-supportive," said Jeffrey Halley, analyst at futures brokerage OANDA.
The US is considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela's vital oil sector in response to Sunday's election of a constitutional super-body that Washington has denounced as a "sham" vote.
But traders said the biggest price supporter was currently a tightening US oil market.