Brent crude oil prices have increased despite slow vaccine rollouts and the discovery of new coronavirus variants.

Brent crude futures rose by $0.10 to reach $55.14 a barrel while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures increased by $0.01 to reach $52.21 a barrel, reported Reuters.

Oil prices are being supported by output cuts by major oil producers, including Saudi Arabia, as well as the Covid-19 vaccination programmes underway in the majority of countries.

However, the slow vaccination rollout pace and the increasing new variants of the coronavirus are delaying the end to the pandemic.

Demand for oil and fuels is expected to increase as the majority of the population is inoculated against the coronavirus, the news agency reported.

For most of 2021, oil prices are anticipated to remain around current levels before Covid-19 recovery advances towards year-end, according to a recent poll by Reuters.

FitchSolutions was cited by the news agency as saying: “Demand will recover across the board, led by Asia-Pacific and North America. Europe and Latin America will lag, largely a reflection of softer economic recovery in key markets in these regions.”

Meanwhile, oil and gas drillers in the US are gearing up for demand pickup as higher crude oil prices would make news wells profitable.