Gasoline was on pace to post a 26 percent jump for the quarter, matching the gain in the first quarter of 2011. The usual seasonal rally ahead of the U.S. driving season and several refinery shutdowns in the United States and the Atlantic basin have sent fuel prices higher.
Fears of supply disruption in the Middle East underpinned oil, but gains were capped by expectations that some Western nations will release strategic reserve stocks. Concern also remained over the untamed euro zone crisis.
"Prices are still very range-bound," said Amrita Sen at Barclays in London. "Overall prices are within a range, still constrained by fears on the upside of a release from the strategic petroleum reserve and on the downside by the strong fundamentals and geopolitical concerns."
IRAN AND OIL SUPPLY
Friday's oil price strength came despite a Reuters survey showing OPEC oil output rising in March to its highest since October 2008 as rising Iraqi and Libyan production offset lower production in Iran as importers scale back purchases from Tehran, a Reuters survey found.
Iran faces a European Union ban on its crude from July 1 as the West tightens sanctions in a dispute over Tehran's nuclear program. Reuters a week ago reported that exports were falling. (Additional reporting by Zaida Espana in London and Florence Tan in Singapore; Editing by Dale Hudson, Marguerita Choy nd Bob Burgdorfer)