London — Oil prices fell on Friday as the market retreated from its strongest bull run in at least a year amid efforts to resume Russian oil flows that were interrupted by contamination.
The U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark erased gains earlier in the week following seven weeks of rises, its longest bull run since the first half of 2015.
Brent crude was set for a fifth weekly gain, representing its best run for a year.
Crude futures are up about 40 percent this year on markets tightened by an OPEC supply pact, sanctions on Venezuela and Iran as well as unreliable production in Libya.
Brent crude futures were at $73.09 a barrel at 1338 GMT, down $1.26. WTI crude futures were down $1.16 at $64.05.
“Downward pressure was mainly the result of profit taking on recent rally pushing prices through technical stops which accelerated the move,” said Hans van Cleef, Senior Energy Economist at Dutch bank ABN Amro.
Friday’s fall followed Brent’s rise above $75 a barrel for the first time this year on Thursday after Germany, Poland and Slovakia suspended imports of Russian crude via a major pipeline due to contamination.
The move cut off parts of Europe from a major supply route, though Russia is holding talks on Friday with Poland, Belarus and Ukraine. It has said it expects to resume supplies of clean oil via the pipeline on April 29.
“Fears of a supply shock were greatly exaggerated,” PVM analysts said in a note.
Supporting prices this week, Washington said on Monday that it would end all exemptions for sanctions against Iran.
Russian oil company Rosneft, however, does not expect tougher sanctions on Iran to result in a global oil deficit, pointing to U.S. pressure on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to make up any shortfall.
“We do not expect further price upside, even if volatility is likely to increase in coming months,” U.S. bank Goldman Sachs said.
Many analysts expect Iran to keep exporting some oil.
“400,000 to 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude and condensate will continue to be exported,” said energy consultancy FGE, down from about 1 million bpd currently.
China, the world’s biggest buyer of Iranian oil, has formally complained to the United States, while Turkey is also lobbying for exemptions.
OPEC member Iraq has said it could raise its output.