RIYADH: The OPEC+ group is likely to take a cautious stance when deciding next week whether to go ahead with planned production increases following the discovery of a new COVID-19 variant has emerged, Geneva-based oil trader Vitol Group said.
The new variant, named Omicron, has rattled the oil market globally, pushing prices down to their biggest decline since April 2020.
There are signs that demand may be weakening in some markets going into the winter months in Asia and Europe, said Mike Muller, the head of the Asia unit at Vitol, as reported by Bloomberg.
The new coronavirus variant will probably lead to more flight cancellations this week, he said.
Several countries have tightened travel restrictions against a number of African countries, following the discovery.
Opec+ is a group consisting of both Opec and some of the world's largest non-Opec oil exporting nations.
“OPEC+ have erred on the side of caution,” Muller said on a weekly webinar by Dubai consultancy Gulf Intelligence.
“Post facto they’ve proven to be right. It is likely they will take into account these fundamentals and the possibility of a demand hit over the winter months.”
OPEC and its partners, including Russia, will meet next week to discuss whether it will implement a planned production increase of 400,000 barrels per day.