An oil tanker in the sea outside the Puerto La Cruz oil refinery in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. Picture: REUTERS/ALEXANDRA ULMER
An oil tanker in the sea outside the Puerto La Cruz oil refinery in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. Picture: REUTERS/ALEXANDRA ULMER

Singapore — Oil prices slipped for a second consecutive session on Monday as renewed Covid-19 lockdowns raised fresh concerns about global fuel demand.

Brent crude futures for March fell 15c, or 0.3%, to $55.26 a barrel by 3.58am, while US West Texas Intermediate crude for March was at $52.19 a barrel, down 8c, or 0.2%.

“Signs of weaker demand weighed on the market,” ANZ analysts said, pointing to lockdowns in Hong Kong, China and possibly France as Covid-19 cases rise, restricting business activity and fuel consumption.

China reported a climb in new Covid-19 cases on Monday, casting a pall over demand prospects in the world’s largest energy consumer, the main pillar of strength for global oil consumption.

Last Friday prices came under further pressure after data from the US Energy Information Administration showed US crude inventories surprisingly rose by 4.4-million barrels in the week to January 15, vs expectations for a draw of 1.2-million barrels.

The number of oil and natural gas rigs added by US energy firms rose for a ninth consecutive week in the week to January 22, but are still 52% below this time last year, data from Baker Hughes shows.

Some support for prices has come in recent weeks from additional production cuts from the world’s top exporter, Saudi Arabia. But investors are watching for a resumption of talks between the US and Iran on a nuclear accord, which could cause Washington to lift sanctions on Tehran’s oil exports, boosting supply.

Iran’s oil minister said on Friday the country’s oil exports have climbed in recent months and its sales of petroleum products to foreign buyers reached record highs despite US sanctions.

On Sunday, Indonesia said its coast guard had seized the Iranian-flagged MT Horse and the Panamanian-flagged MT Freya vessels over suspected illegal fuel transfers off the country’s waters.

Reuters

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