Oil Prices Inch Up as China Lifts More Travel Controls, while US Faces Winter Freeze

Oil climbed in early Asia trading as China undertook more moves to roll back its Covid Zero policy, while freezing weather in the United States forced refinery shutdown in the important Texas Gulf Coast region.

Brent crude was up 81 cents, or 0.97%, at $84.73 a barrel by 9.59 A.M. (Thai time), while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was at $80.39 a barrel, up 83 cents, or 1.04%.

China announced late Monday that beginning January 8, international tourists will no longer be required to undergo quarantine upon arrival on the mainland.

This change is in response to this month’s sudden loosening of domestic Covid restrictions. These revisions roll back the majority of the strictest regulations that China’s zero-Covid policy had in place for the past three years.

Meanwhile, over the past several days, the two largest refineries in the United States on the Texas Gulf Coast were both forced to close.

After being tossed around by Russia’s war in Ukraine, fears of recession in major economies, and, most recently, a severe Covid-19 wave in China as controls are eased, oil is expected to close the year on a mild uptick.