Oil futures traded little changed early Tuesday though a surge in COVID-19 cases in Europe and the U.S. remains a concern as it is seen limiting energy demand . Meanwhile, a pickup in output by Libya is adding to supply-related worries.
West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery was up 2 cents at $41.08 a barrel, while the November WTI contract, which expires at Tuesday’s close, was up 5 cents, or 0.1%, at $40.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The global benchmark, December Brent crude was unchanged at $42.62 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.
Several European countries have imposed new restrictions on business activity and travel as COVID-19 cases have risen in recent days. In the U.S., the seven-day moving average of new cases, which smooths out daily irregularities, rose to 56,007, its highest since Aug. 5, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, a virtual meeting of the OPEC+ alliance’s Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee on Monday saw oil ministers underline calls to be proactive, but did little to change the trajectory of prices. OPEC+ members are scheduled to ease existing production curbs in January.
“With the committee urging members to remain ‘vigilant and proactive,’ statements from oil ministers suggested no decision on January’s planned output increase were made, with the focus instead remaining for now on enforcing the agreed upon compensatory cuts to ensure overall compliance with the existing deal,” wrote analysts at JBC Energy, a Vienna-based consulting firm, in a note.
“With Libyan supply ramping up, keeping a lid on overall OPEC supply is likely to continue to be a headache for the organization in the months ahead,” they said. “By the time of the next JMMC meeting, scheduled for mid-November, some tough decisions may need to be made. ”
Libya this month resumed operations at its largest oil field.