Oil prices are down, Fears of additional Lockdowns in China Increase Fuel Demand Concerns

Oil prices are down in on Thursday morning as concerns about increasing coronavirus cases in China, the world’s largest oil importer, weighed on futures markets and fears of more lockdowns in China drove fuel demand concerns.

Brent crude futures down 37 cents, or 0.4%, to $104.95 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures down 27 cents, or 0.3%, to $101.75 a barrel.

The Chinese capital Beijing reported 48 new symptomatic and two new asymptomatic COVID-19 cases for April 27, CCTV reported on Thursday. The city recorded 31 symptomatic cases a day earlier and three asymptomatic ones, as it began a mass testing program aimed at containing a new outbreak.

Adding support to the market are fears about tight global energy supply following Russia-Ukraine crisis and following sanctions slapped on Moscow by the United States and its allies. Meanwhile, Wednesday’s U.S. crude oil supply data showed a raise of 692,000 barrels for the week to Apr 22.

Russian energy giant Gazprom said on Wednesday it stopped gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland. British key Shell said it would no longer accept refined oil combined with Russian products, according to trading documents, while Exxon Mobil said it had announced force majeure on its Sakhalin-1 operations in Russia’s far east.

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