Oil prices fell on Monday on concerns that widening COVID-19 curbs in China will curtail demand, offsetting signs that output at the top U.S. shale field is losing steam. Brent crude futures dropped 36 cents, or 0.4%, to $95.41 a barrel by 0151 GMT after slipping 1.2% on Friday.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $87.67 a barrel, down 23 cents, or 0.3%, after settling down 1.3% on Friday. Wider COVID curbs in China invariably raise concerns over demand from the world’s top crude importer, Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said. Chinese cities are doubling down on Beijing’s zero-COVID policy as outbreaks widened, dampening earlier hopes of a rebound in demand.
WTI is still supported, though, by signals from large U.S. producers that productivity and volume gains in the Permian Basin – the nation’s top shale field – are slowing. The warnings came just as U.S. oil exports rose to a record last week, partly pushed WTI prices up 3.4%. Brent rose 2.4% last week, notching its second consecutive weekly gain.
Separately, China’s central bank reaffirmed its existing policy objectives in keeping liquidity reasonably ample and increasing credit support to the real economy, People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang said on Sunday. In an outlook to be released on Monday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is expected to stick to a view of oil demand rising for another decade, despite increasing use of renewable energy and electric cars, two OPEC sources said. Meanwhile, massive profits at global energy giants, including Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp, have revived calls for windfall taxes.