According to Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV, Amin Nasser, the CEO of the world’s largest oil company and largest oil exporter, the global market overreacted to the new Omicron COVID variation on Friday causing prices to plummet by almost 11%.
After news of a substantially mutated, little-researched novel coronavirus variety identified in South Africa, liquidity was low during a festive long US weekend. Participants worried about another downturn in global oil demand, even as the market predicts a surplus next year, as equity markets fell around the world. Oil led the commodities market slide.
Early Monday, oil prices rose more than 5% as the market assessed a fresh threat to oil demand while awaiting additional information regarding the new COVID variant. WTI Crude, the U.S. benchmark, is back over $70, at $72.72 as of 9:07 a.m. EST, after falling below $70 on Friday.
Aside from Omicron, the market will be watching for the OPEC+ monthly meeting on Thursday, which will determine output levels for January.
OPEC+ will debate potential steps at its next meeting, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who believes there is no need to rush decisions. “We don’t see such a need, we will carefully monitor the situation, but there is no need to rush to hasty decisions,” he said.
Many countries have banned flights from South Africa and other African countries, while others, such as Israel and Japan, have closed their borders to foreign visitors. The United Kingdom has tightened entry requirements by requiring all foreign visitors, regardless of vaccination status, to take a PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.