Oil Steady as Supply Cuts Offset Demand Worries on Stalled Rollout of Vaccines
EghtesadOnline: Oil prices were slightly lower in subdued trade on Friday, sticking to ranges seen over the past three weeks, as investors looked for signs of changing supply and demand fundamentals.
A cut in Saudi Arabia’s oil supply and lower US oil stocks helped offset price pressures from fuel demand, which is slowing due to stalled vaccine rollouts and contagious new coronavirus strains, Reuters reported.
Brent crude futures for March slipped 2 cents to $55.51 a barrel, standing broadly flat on the day after falling 0.5% in the previous session.
The Brent March contract expires on Friday. The more active April contract was 3 cents, or 0.1%, lower at $55.17. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 23 cents to $52.10 a barrel, after easing 1% on Thursday.
Saudi Arabia is set to cut output by 1 million barrels per day in February and March, and compliance with output curbs by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together called OPEC+, has improved in January.
The Saudi cut effectively means OPEC+ supply cuts will rise from 7.2 million bpd in January to 8.125 million bpd in February.
A 9.9 million barrel drawdown in US oil inventories last week and forecasts for a small drop in US oil production in February are also helping to support the market.
However, market gains have been capped by worries about stalled vaccine rollouts and the spread of contagious new variants of the coronavirus.