Oil prices were mixed on Monday over investor supply worries from unrest in OPEC member Kazakhstan and with the political impasse in Libya, although increases were capped by rising daily COVID-19 omicron variant cases.
International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $81.72 per barrel at 0646 GMT with a 0.03% fall after closing the previous session at $81.75 a barrel.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) traded at $78.89 per barrel at the same time for a 0.01% fall after it ended the previous session at $78.90 a barrel.
Prices were volatile during Monday’s trading, with investors trying to balance concerns over supply disruptions in Kazakhstan and Libya, and the rapid spread of omicron.
Protests in Kazakhstan against an increase in liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices turned into massive riots across the country over the past week, resulting in the deaths of some 164 people.
On Saturday, the press secretary of Kazakhstan’s founding President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced that the president had handed over the chairmanship of the country’s security council to himself.
Following the protests, interrupted production at the giant Tengiz field in western Kazakhstan began to gradually return to normal levels, operator Chevron said on Sunday.
Highlighting the fragility of crude supply, the turmoil in Kazakhstan put upward pressure on prices.
With severe constraints on Libya’s oil production dropping from a high of 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) to about 800,000 barrels bpd amid the political impasse and required pipeline maintenance, supply concerns remain fresh, putting further pressure on prices.
The spread of COVID-19 is continuing to affect the aviation sector in the US with the cancellation of about 5,000 flights over the weekend due to staff shortages because of virus outbreaks among employees, according to FlightAware, a data tracking service.