Oil prices deepened their decline by about 5% at the beginning of the week’s trading, today, Monday, as US crude fell below $ 68 a barrel, with the increase in cases of the Omicron mutation in Europe and the United States.
Oil’s performance comes amid investor concerns that new restrictions on companies to combat the spread of the Corona virus may hurt fuel demand.
Oil prices today
Brent crude futures prices – for February 2022 delivery – fell by 4.4%, recording $70.27 a barrel.
The prices of West Texas Intermediate crude futures – January delivery – also decreased by 4.8%, recording $67.43 a barrel.
The prices of Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate decreased by 2.2% and 1.1%, respectively, during the last week’s trading.
“Oil prices are under pressure due to concerns of imminent restrictions on economic activities to contain the current increasing spread of the omicron mutator around the world, which could increase the risk of slowing demand,” said Kelvin Wong, market analyst at CMC Markets Asia.
The Netherlands went into lockdown on Sunday, and the prospect of more coronavirus restrictions looming ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays for many European countries.
On Sunday, US health officials urged citizens to get boosters, wear masks and be careful if they travel during the winter holidays; The omicron mutant has spread all over the world.
Meanwhile, US energy companies added, last week, new platforms to explore for oil and natural gas for the second week in a row.
In its report on Friday, energy services company Baker Hughes said the number of oil and gas rigs, an early indicator of future production, rose by 3 to 579 in the week ending December 17, the highest level since April 2020.
However, exports from Russia are expected to decline with oil exports and transit from the country planned at 56.05 million tons (398 million barrels) in the first quarter of 2022 compared to 58.3 million tons (414 million barrels) in the fourth quarter of 2021, Reuters reported.
Chinese diesel exports also fell in November by 69% from last year; Refineries prioritized domestic supply to ease the fuel crisis; State-backed refineries have raised oil processing rates.