Oil prices sharply declined on Friday as more than 7% losses were made for both benchmarks during the previous trading session over demand concerns after some European countries imposed new restrictions, while vaccine rollouts were disrupted due to uncertainties over the AstraZeneca vaccine.
International benchmark Brent hit $68.15 per barrel on Thursday and recorded a 7.14% loss when it closed the day at $63.28 a barrel. Brent was trading at $62.59 a barrel at 0703 GMT.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was trading at $59.44 per barrel at the same time, however, it reached $64.82 before closing the previous session at $60 a barrel, recording a 7.43% fall.
Under demand pressure since the start of the pandemic crisis, oil prices have been affected by vaccine campaign reports, which have helped a rebound in demand and economic growth.
However, the safety of vaccines has been brought into question after reports that AstraZeneca’s vaccine caused blood clots.
Although the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicine Agency (EMA) said the vaccine is safe, in several European countries its use is still banned.
Spain, Italy and France announced the resumption of the AstraZeneca vaccine, however, concerns have arisen that uncertainties about the vaccine may delay the oil demand recovery in some European countries, putting downward pressure on prices.
Oil prices also came under pressure as a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic began to hit some countries, including Italy, Germany and France.
The French prime minister on Thursday announced a semi-lockdown in adversely affected regions and partial lockdowns are on the agenda in some countries.
Negative forecasts from the International Energy Agency (IEA) also weighed on prices.
According to the agency, oil demand in 2020 was nearly 9 million barrels per day (bpd) below the level seen in 2019 and is not expected to return to that level before 2023.
By Sibel Morrow