Oil prices increased on Wednesday over an unexpected decline in US crude oil inventories, while concerns over the safety of vaccines continue to cap prices.
International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $68.72 per barrel at 0652 GMT for a 0.48% increase after closing Tuesday at $68.39 a barrel.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was at $65.21 per barrel at the same time for a 0.63% rise after it ended the previous session at $64.80 a barrel.
Late Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute (API) announced that US crude oil inventories would fall by 1 million barrels per day (bpd) relative to previous market forecasts of a 2.7 million-barrel rise.
If crude stocks fall in line with the API’s expectations, it signals a rebound in crude demand in the US, the world's largest oil consumer, to positively support prices.
Probable disruptions in inoculations with the safety of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in question in Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway, have prolonged oil demand recovery in these European countries.
These countries had already suspended the use of AstraZeneca in recent weeks, following reports of people developing blood clots after receiving the jab.
Sweden also announced its decision to suspend the vaccine although the European Medicine Agency (EMA) said Tuesday that the benefits of using AstraZeneca vaccines outweigh the risk.
Experts from the EMA on Thursday will conclude their assessment as to whether blood clots are definitive side effects of AstraZeneca vaccines or if the reported cases are merely coincidental.
Meanwhile, the French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the country has entered “a kind of third wave” of infections in the last 24 hours when 320 people died and 29,975 new cases were recorded.
By Sibel Morrow