Oil prices decreased on Thursday over the rise in US commercial crude oil and gasoline inventories during the past week, fueling low demand fears.
International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $67.66 per barrel at 0626 GMT for a 0.49% decrease after closing Wednesday at $68 a barrel.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was at $64.28 per barrel at the same time for a 0.49% fall after it ended the previous session at $64.60 a barrel.
US commercial crude oil inventories increased by 0.5% for the week ending March 12, according to the latest data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Inventories increased by 2.4 million barrels to 500.8 million barrels, lower than the market expectation of a rise of 2.7 million barrels.
Gasoline inventories in the US, the world's largest oil consumer, also increased by 500,000 barrels, or 0.2%, to 232.1 million barrels over that period, intensifying concerns over weak fuel demand.
Probable disruptions in inoculation programs and the prospect of new restrictions and lockdowns due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases worldwide also continue to negatively affect oil demand recovery projections.
Spain’s Health Ministry said on Wednesday that it was now looking into three serious blood-clotting incidents, including one death that may be tied to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Along with Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway, Sweden had also suspended the use of AstraZeneca in recent weeks, following reports of people developing blood clots after receiving the jab.
However, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) remain convinced that the benefits of AstraZeneca’s vaccine outweigh the potential risks.
The UK is expected to face a 'significant reduction' in vaccine supplies from March 29, according to a letter from the National Health Service (NHS) England to local vaccination centers. Local media outlets say the disruption could last for a month due to “reductions in national inbound vaccines supply.” The vaccination centers were told not to book any further appointments for April.
Meanwhile, according to the latest report of the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Wednesday, even though the global economy and oil markets are recovering from a historic collapse in demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, there may well be no return to “normal” for oil markets in the post-Covid era.
By Ebru Sengul Cevrioglu