Crude oil prices increased during the week ending Dec. 18, as recent vaccine rollouts boosted the upward sentiment of an oil demand rebound but the surprise build in US crude stocks limited further upticks.
International benchmark Brent crude traded at $51.40 at 1300 GMT on Friday, posting a 1.68% increase from Monday when trade at 0657 GMT registered at $50.55 per barrel.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) traded at $48.34 at the same time on Friday relative to $47.08 a barrel on Monday.
While weak demand caused by the global coronavirus pandemic crisis is still constraining oil prices, positive vaccine developments against the virus are supporting prices to instill hopes of a quicker demand recovery.
Following the UK and Canada, the US, the world’s largest oil consumer, also kicked off its vaccine campaign last weekend. The country is also due to authorize the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine upon the recommendation of an outside advisory panel.
If approved, Moderna's vaccine will be the second coronavirus vaccine in the US after the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which the FDA authorized last week.
Investor fears of weak demand were fueled by a string of pandemic measures in European countries, varying from strict lockdowns to night curfews.
The Netherlands, the UK, Italy and the Czech Republic announced restrictions on large gatherings and the closure of some non-essential businesses, while Germany declared a strict lockdown that included the Christmas holiday, and France brought in night curfews from 8.00 pm to 6.00 am.
Although Brent oil averaged $51 on Thursday to reach its highest level since March 5 at $52.04, the negative demand outlook for 2021 overshadowed the euphoria on vaccine developments.
OPEC in its monthly oil report on Monday trimmed its oil demand for 2021 by 350,000 barrels per day, citing the persistent negative impact of the pandemic.
The International Energy Agency's (IEA) monthly oil report on Tuesday warned that as mass vaccination will take several months, the ensuing impact on oil demand would not be immediate.
By Sibel Morrow