Oil prices increased on Tuesday ahead of a meeting of major producers of OPEC+ while omicron-induced uncertainties continue to worry investors.
International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $79.16 per barrel at 0656 GMT, up 0.22% from the previous session's close of $78.98.
The American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was at $76.20 per barrel at the same time, for a 0.15% gain from the previous session's trade closure of $76.08 per barrel.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, known as OPEC+, are expected to hold a meeting later on Tuesday.
The 23-member group will decide whether to keep the previously-agreed output of 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) in February, although experts foresee “little likelihood” of any upward or downward output change.
In their previous meeting, OPEC+ producers agreed to adhere to the planned output scheme, despite calls from several countries, particularly the US, to increase supply.
'The impact of the new Omicron variant is expected to be mild and short-lived, as the world becomes better equipped to manage COVID-19 and its related challenges,' according to the technical report the group published after their Joint Technical Committee (JTC) meeting on Monday.
The JTC report further added that their positive projection 'is in addition to a steady economic outlook in both the advanced and emerging economies.'
Prices also saw some upward support from supply outages in Libya and Ecuador.
Libya announced production cuts on Saturday of around 200,000 barrels of crude oil starting Tuesday due to maintenance on the main crude oil pumping line connecting the fields of Samah and Dhahra to the Esidra port.
The shutdown of Ecuador's two pipelines that transport oil through the Andes mountains follows three force majeure announcements in 2021 that were prompted by continued river erosion in the Amazon region. President Guillermo Lasso's government had declared a force majeure on all of the country's oil contracts last month.
The government announced on Monday that it has partially reopened the 360,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) SOTE crude pipeline and the 450,000 bpd OCP crude pipeline, with the intention of restoring oil production to pre-crisis levels next month.
Capping further price increases, more than 2,300 flights were canceled around the world, 674 of which originated in the US due to a winter storm that hit the mid-Atlantic within the last 24-hours combined with pandemic-caused shortages of airline workers, according to a running tally on the tracking website FlightAware.com.
By Sibel Morrow