OPEC+ May Hold Off Oil Output As Omicron Threaten Market Stability

OPEC and its allies would meet this week to decide whether to stick with their planned oil output increase or hold off until more is known about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will meet with its allies led by Russia would meet today to discuss how to assess the potential impact of the Omicron variant on crude demand, as well as moves by the United States and other countries to tap their strategic oil reserves to cool blistering prices. The current plan is to add to global markets 400,000 barrels of crude per day.

Oil prices had the largest daily drop – $10 a barrel – since March 2020 on Friday as news of the Omicron variant hit the headlines, kindling fears of fresh business-sapping coronavirus restrictions. Several countries have already enacted a new wave of travel restrictions. Concerns are also rife over how effective current COVID-19 vaccines may be against the new variant.

By Wednesday, oil clawed back some of those losses as the market looked to the OPEC meeting. Global benchmark Brent crude settled down 0.75 percent at $68.71 a barrel while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading 1.21 percent lower at $65.38. But they are still off October highs when a global energy crunch saw Brent reach $86.70 a barrel and WTI $84.65 a barrel.

Patsy Nwogu

Reporting on data-driven featured stories and investigations.

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