Oil edges higher over expectations of less OPEC+ output

Emergence and spread of new COVID-19 variant Omicron puts pressure on oil prices

Oil prices increased on Monday after sharply declining by around 10% during the previous session on the back of reports that OPEC+ may seek an output readjustment after the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant.

International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $74.61 per barrel at 0619 GMT for a 4.21% increase after closing the previous session at $71.59 a barrel.

American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was at $71.56 per barrel at the same time for a 5% loss after trade ended at $68.15 a barrel in the previous session.

On Friday, prices diminished by the largest one-day drop since April 2020 of 10%, as the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, alarmed investors of a possible decrease in demand.

On Sunday, some international media groups reported that the OPEC group will move their joint technical committee to Wednesday from Monday and the joint ministerial monitoring committee to Thursday instead of Tuesday to better evaluate the impacts of the coronavirus variant.

The group will also hold their ministerial meeting after which an announcement of the final decisions will be made following technical discussions.

The market expectation is that the group will revise down its previous decision of output of 400,000 barrels per day.

The price crash on Friday came over reports that the Omicron variant has been detected in several countries, prompting big economies to respond with stricter restrictions.

After South African scientists said last week that they had discovered the highly mutated variant, which the World Health Organization (WHO) subsequently named Omicron, and declared it a “variant of concern,” it spread from South Africa to several countries including Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Britain, Denmark, Germany,Hong Kong,Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, France and Canada.

Several countries around the world have now banned flights from over half a dozen southern African nations including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini over fears of the new variant.​​​​​​​

Investors are also monitoring renewed negotiations over the possible resumption of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six other powers in Vienna, which may pave the way for the removal of US sanctions on Iran and the resumption of oil exports.

Iran and six other powers have been in talks since April to restore the 2015 nuclear deal that was terminated three years ago by former US President Donald Trump. His administration re-imposed sanctions that severely hampered Iran’s economy and drastically reduced its oil exports.

Although a slew of sanctions aimed at the energy industry in Iran was lifted on June 10, sanctions on oil exports are still in place.

Since the election of Iran’s new hardline president in June, talks have halted.


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