Oil prices were little changed on Thursday as the United States eased sanctions on Venezuela to allow more oil to flow globally, but traders remained nervous that Israel’s military campaign in Gaza could escalate to a regional conflict.
Brent futures for December were down 20, or 0.2%, to $91.30 a barrel at 11:27 a.m. EDT (1627 GMT). U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures for November, which expire on Friday, stood unchanged at $88.32 per barrel. At their session lows, both benchmarks were down more than $1 a barrel.
The more active December WTI contract rose 0.2%, or 18 cents, to $87.45 a barrel.
Egyptian aid trucks moved closer to the only crossing into Gaza not controlled by Israel, but despite a request from U.S. President Joe Biden to allow the aid, it still had not passed through by Thursday.
“We are still very much in flux and the potential to escalate, particularly from the Arab world, is an issue,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.
The United States issued a six-month licence authorising transactions in Venezuela’s energy sector, an OPEC member, after a deal was reached between Venezuela’s government and the political opposition there to ensure fair 2024 elections.
The deal is not expected to quickly expand Venezuela’s oil output but could boost profits by returning some foreign companies to its oilfields and providing its crude to a wider set of cash-paying customers, experts said.