Global crude oil prices have inched up but fresh lockdowns to contain the new wave of Covid-19 infections in European countries are dampening hopes of recovery in fuel demand.

US crude rose by $0.10, or 0.2%, to reach $60.10 a barrel while Brent crude increased by $0.18, or 0.3%, to reach $63.46 a barrel, reported Reuters.

On 18 March, oil prices dipped 7% amid concerns over the slow pace of Covid-19 vaccination programmes in Europe.

ING Economics was cited by the news agency as saying in a note to clients: “The market is becoming increasingly nervous around some countries in Europe imposing Covid-19-related restrictions once again and, in doing so, raising concerns for the demand outlook.”

While fresh lockdowns are being imposed by several European countries due to the new wave of the Covid-19 infection, the pace of vaccination programmes has slowed down due to concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine’s side effects.

Moreover, a stronger US dollar is taking a toll on oil prices and the increasing cases for Covid‑19 infection, particularly in Brazil, concerns the demand outlook.

According to the Joint Organisations Data Initiative, crude exports from Saudi Arabia have increased in January for a seventh consecutive month, marking their highest since April last year.

The world’s biggest oil exporter increased its shipments from 6.495 million barrels per day in December 2020 to 6.582 million barrels per day in January 2021, reported Reuters.

As per official figures released on 17 March, crude inventories in the US increased for a fifth week last week.