Oil prices edged up on Friday but traded in a tight range as demand concerns caused by new coronavirus variants and slow vaccine rollouts offset a cut in Saudi Arabian oil supply and falling US oil inventories.
For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.
Brent crude futures for March rose 60 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $56.13 a barrel by 1455 GMT.
The Brent March contract expires on Friday. The more active April contract was up 69 cents, or 1.2 percent, at $55.79.
For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 70 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $53.04.
A Reuters poll showed that oil prices are expected to hover around current levels for much of 2021 before a recovery gains traction towards the end of the year.
“Restrictions on the demand side because of lockdowns are countered by a sufficient reduction in supply ... preventing prices from falling or rising to any significant extent,” said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.
Libya needs stability, budget to sustain recent oil output rebound, says NOC chief
Saudi Arabia is set to cut output by 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in February and March. Compliance with output curbs by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together known as OPEC+, has improved in January.
OPEC oil output rose in January, a Reuters survey found, after the producer group and allies agreed to an easing of supply curbs.
However, the rise was still less than the amount agreed under the deal, with an involuntary drop in Nigerian exports limiting the increase.
A 9.9 million barrel drawdown in US oil inventories last week and forecasts for a small drop in US oil production in February provided price support, but market gains have been capped by concern over stalled vaccine rollouts and the spread of contagious new variants of the coronavirus.
Europe’s fight to secure COVID-19 vaccine supplies intensified on Thursday when the European Union warned drug companies such as AstraZeneca that it would use all legal means or even block exports to ensure shots are delivered as promised.
“The expected rebound in global oil demand depends a great deal on the pace of COVID-19 vaccine distribution,” said Stephen Brennock of broker PVM.
“Any loss of momentum in vaccination programs will undermine the strength of the global oil demand recovery.”
Indian economy shrinks 7.7 pct in fiscal 2020-21 amid coronavirus pandemic: SurveyIndia’s economy contracted by 7.7 percent in the 2020-21 financial year, battered by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released ... Economy
UNICEF chief Fore sees coronavirus vaccine demand easing in 2021 second halfThe UN Children’s Fund, the largest single buyer of vaccines in the world, expects a “crush” of demand for COVID-19 vaccines in the first year, with ... Coronavirus
Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia extends travel restrictions, border closure to May 17Saudi Arabia will be extending the travel ban for its citizens, and will reopen its air, land, sea on May 17, instead of March 31, as a coronavirus ... Coronavirus
EU will not budge after AstraZeneca offers 8 mln extra coronavirus vaccine shotsAstraZeneca offered eight million more doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the European Union to try to defuse a row over supplies, but the bloc saidthat ... Coronavirus
Norway to spend an extra $1.9 bln to aid pandemic-hit businesses, municipalitiesNorway’s government on Friday proposed 16.3 billion Norwegian crowns ($1.9 billion) in extra fiscal spending this year to aid municipalities and ... Coronavirus
UK expects facilitation of its COVID-19 vaccine contracts: PM spokesmanBritain said it expected its COVID-19 vaccine contracts to be “facilitated”, after a row between the European Union and AstraZeneca about its own ... Coronavirus