Oil prices fall as rising stockpiles compound coronavirus demand concerns

In this Dec. 5, 2012 photo, the sun sets behind an oil pump jack and the Rocky Mountains near Fredrick, Colo. (CPR)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Oil prices fell on Tuesday as rising stockpiles in the United States added to concerns about risks to demand as countries including Germany and France halt coronavirus vaccinations.

Brent crude was down 57 cents at $68.31 by 0645 GMT, having dropped 0.5% on Monday. U.S. crude was down 57 cents at $64.82 a barrel, after declining 0.3% in the previous session.

Stockpiles are rising in the United States because of last month’s “big freeze” which halted refining operations that have taken time to fully return, according to Reuters.

“Prices are pressured by expectations that last month’s winter storm in Texas could keep boosting crude inventories,” Avtar Sandu, senior manager commodities at Phillip Futures in Singapore, told Reuters.

The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, will report crude stock pile levels later on Tuesday, followed by official numbers from the Department of Energy on Wednesday.

Crude inventories increased by 12.8 million barrels in the week to March 5, against analysts’ expectations for a rise of less than 1 million barrels, Reuters said.

Several countries have halted the use of AstraZeneca PLC COVID-19 injections after reports of possible serious side effects, although the World Health Organization (WHO) said there was no established link to the vaccine.

These moves are deepening concerns over a slow pace of vaccinations in the region, which may delay any economic recovery from the pandemic in one of the hardest-hit areas.

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