Oil Prices Rise; Tanker Blast at Saudi Arabia

Oil prices rose on Monday, pushing Brent back above $50 a barrel, buoyed by hopes that a rollout of coronavirus vaccines will lift global fuel demand while a tanker explosion in Saudi Arabia jangled nerves in the market.

Brent crude futures rose 67 cents, or 1.3%, to $50.64 a barrel by 07:30 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 62 cents, or 1.3%, at $47.19 a barrel. Prices also extended gains amid supply jitters after a shipping firm said an oil tanker was hit by an external source while discharging at Jeddah port in Saudi Arabia.

The United States kicked off its vaccination campaign against COVID-19, buoying hopes that pandemic restrictions could end soon and lift demand at the world’s largest oil consumer. An extension of Brexit talks among European powers also buoyed financial markets on Monday.

Investors are looking ahead to two meetings between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies including Russia, a grouping known as OPEC+.

In the United States, energy firms last week added the most oil and natural gas rigs in a week since January as producers continued to return to the wellpad.

Two separate fires occurred at Nigeria’s Qua Iboe crude oild export terminal and at an oil pipeline in Iran on Sunday but the incidents have mostly been contained.