The global oil prices saw their biggest weekly fall since October as signs of dwindling demand in key markets abruptly stopped a vigorous rally.
International benchmark Brent crude ended the week down almost 7 percent, settling at $64.53 a barrel. The US benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell by a similar margin to $61.42 a barrel.
The slide halted the continuous upward trend in the crude prices observed this year. Brent and WTI gained more than 60 per cent since early November as the world began to reopen from COVID-19 pandemic.
After four days of declines, both Brent and WTI regained some ground at the end of the week, each rising by about 2 per cent on Friday, boosted in part by a drone attack on an oil refinery in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Arabian energy ministry said that supply was unaffected, but it follows other recent attacks targeting the kingdom’s oil facilities, which have been claimed by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Chinese authorities were reported to be cracking down on imports of heavy emissions fuels, triggering concerns over the future of some Asian imports. US oil inventories, meanwhile, have increased as petrochemical plants take longer than expected to come back online after the Texas freeze.
Oil prices crashed in March last year when a glut of Saudi supply hit the market just as economies were shut down by coronavirus lockdowns. WTI plunged into negative territory for the first time in April.