Crude Oil Prices Rise on Small US Inventory Draw
By Adedapo Adesanya
Crude oil prices continued to rise on Wednesday after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported an inventory draw of 0.2 million barrels for the week to December 3.
This came a day after the American Petroleum Institute surprised markets with an estimated crude oil inventory draw of over 3 million barrels that helped push prices higher.
In EIA estimates, last week’s draw was in comparison with a modest decline of 900,000 barrels for the first week of December and at 432.9 million barrels, US crude oil inventories remain below the five-year seasonal average.
Consequently, the price of the Brent crude appreciated yesterday by 1.02 per cent or 77 cents to settle at $76.59 per barrel, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude gained 1.17 per cent or 85 cents to sell for $73.26 per barrel.
Prices have been on the rise since the start of the week as the initial fear that the new Omicron variant could prompt new lockdowns began to subside amid reports of mild symptoms that don’t require hospitalization.
According to reports, early studies suggest two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot may protect only partially against Omicron, but a third dose may improve that protection.
Market analysts also warned that some of the Omicron oil demand-related concerns might have been too pessimistic, and following some positive news related to the variant being released in recent days, oil prices recovered.
However, prices are still far below their October highs but have rebounded from below the $70 mark that they fell towards the end of November.
The outlook remains uncertain as researchers caution it is early days for Omicron and more data will become available as time passes.
Meanwhile, the market expects that supply will exceed demand by early 2022, due to rising US production and ongoing supply additions from the Middle East.
Also posing a bullish outlook was members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) raising oil prices for Asian and US buyers, and Iraq’s oil minister noted that would oil reach $75 a barrel.
On the geopolitical front, tensions between Western powers and Russia over Ukraine also remained high after American President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the West would impose strong economic and other measures on Russia if it invades Ukraine.