US Crude Oil Prices Drop As COVID-19 Cancels The Flights

Oil prices were mixed on Monday. Brent crude oil rose slightly, while US crude oil futures fell. The fall came after airlines canceled thousands of flights in the United States during the Christmas holiday due to a surge in COVID-19 infections.

As of 0510 GMT, US West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures fell 63 cents, or 0.9%, to US$73.16 per barrel. On Friday, the US closed markets for Christmas, causing them to suspend the contract’s trading.

Brent crude oil rose 20 cents, or 0.3%, to $76.34 a barrel, after falling 0.92% on Friday.

After early data suggested that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 may cause milder illnesses, both contracts rose by 3% to 4% last week.

However, this highly spreading variant has caused a surge in COVID-19 cases worldwide.

In the past three days, American Airlines canceled flights due to a shortage of personnel related to COVID. It caused thousands of passengers traveling during Christmas to be trapped.

In Europe, natural gas prices hit a record high last week due to tight supply, supporting Brent crude oil prices.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the EU could only attribute record natural gas prices to its policies. He added that some members resell cheap Russian gas at much higher prices within the EU.

Looking ahead, oil investors will focus on the next OPEC+ meeting on January 4.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC and its allies, including Russia, called OPEC+) will meet to increase production by 400,000 barrels per day in February.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday that Russia believes that major changes in oil prices next year are unlikely because demand will not return to pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2022.

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