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US were at $52.61 per barrel at 0128 GMT, down 64 cents, or 1.2 percent, from their last close.

However, fresh data on surging US fuel stocks and worries about U.S.

Maduro remains in office and U.S. President Donald Trump renewed American threats to increase sanctions on the country, including possible prohibition on oil trade with the United States.

Earlier on Friday, the worldwide benchmark crude rose as high as 61.92 dollars.

Venezuela's opposition leader, Juan Guaido, declared himself interim president Wednesday, winning backing from Washington and some countries in Latin America, prompting socialist Nicolas Maduro, the country's leader since 2013, to cease diplomatic relations with the U.S.

Over the past four weeks, crude oil imports averaged about 7.7 million barrels per day, down 2.1 percent from the same four-week period previous year.

A year ago, the U.S. government saw American crude production averaging 11.95 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2042.

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Demand for Russian crude was supported by a rise in throughput by China's private refiners, who favor Russian grades such as ESPO, while geopolitical uncertainties also forced China to import less from countries such as Iran and Venezuela.

Oil prices rose on Friday as political turmoil in Venezuela threatened to reduce supply but fresh data on surging US fuel stocks and global economic woes weighed on sentiment.

RBC Europe predicted that sanctions could almost double projected output shortfalls from the troubled exporter.

Crude oil production in the U.S.is expected to average 12.1 million bpd in 2019 and 12.9 million bpd in 2020, according to the EIA's Short-Term Energy Outlook report for January. "Venezuelan production will decline by an additional 300,000-500,000 barrels per day (bpd) this year but such punitive measures could expand that outage by several hundred thousand barrels".

However, global oil markets are still well supplied, mainly attributed to surging output in the United States, where crude production rose by more than 2 million barrels per day a year ago to a record 11.9 million bpd.

But demand may start to stutter because of a global economic slowdown, which is likely to dent fuel consumption.

"With the IMF downgrading 2019/20 and the continued rhetoric from Davos reiterating that they expect global growth to slow down over the next two years, is providing selling pressure in oil", said Hue Frame, portfolio manager at Frame Funds in Sydney. However, traders somewhat weighed down this scenario against the backdrop of the solid performance in U.S. oil output, which should be more than enough to offset occasional supply disruptions.


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