Oil prices changed little on Tuesday as rising coronavirus deaths raised concerns about the global demand outlook. News of the explosion in Saudi Arabia limited losses.
Brent crude ended the session up 3 cents, or 0.05%, at $55.91 while WTI crude fell 16 cents, or 0.3%, to settle at $52.61.
According to data from the American Petroleum Institute, US crude oil stocks fell 5.3 million barrels in the week of January 22 to around 481.8 million barrels. US crude oil futures reduced losses and Brent crude increased in post settlement trade.
Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world, surpassed one million confirmed cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, the government sped up vaccine distribution. The death toll in Britain exceeded 100,000. The number of cases in the United States exceeded 25 million on Sunday.
US Democrats are trying to persuade Republican MPs of the need for further incentives and raise subjects about when and in what form a package should be approved.
High COVID numbers, vaccine struggles, and uncertainty surrounding the Biden stimulus plan continue to keep prices under pressure.
Prices rose for a short time after the news of the explosion in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, whose cause was not clear.
Oil prices were also backed by geopolitical tensions, after two supertankers, consisting of Iranian and Chinese crews, were arrested on Sunday in Indonesian waters near Kalimantan island on suspicion of illegal oil transfers. If this official incident is resolved quickly, prices are likely to pull back.
Oil demand is now firmly under pressure and will remain low for a while until deadlocks are lifted and the rate of COVID-19 infection slows. The demand probability of China, the world’s largest consumer of energy, concerns global production. But cases are increasing in China. As for other places, Indian crude oil imports in December rose to their highest level in more than two years for instance.
The International Monetary Fund, which increased the possibility of an increase in oil demand later in the year, cited the vaccine-reinforced increase expectation as a reason, predicting a global growth of 5.5% in 2021 according to its expectation in October.