A rising number of coronavirus cases in the United States, China, Latin America and India has unnerved investors.
“These are all important oil demand centres. A second wave of infections and lockdowns will derail the global economic recovery and with it, oil demand and prices,” said Stephen Brennock of broker PVM.
Storage facilities around the world are almost full and if a second of wave of the pandemic hits demand, they will struggle to cope with the unused oil, analysts say.
Energy trader Mercuria expects stock draws to be around 2 million barrels per day from July as the lockdowns ease, and a price floor for crude at about $40 in 2021.
Upbeat European manufacturing surveys offered some support, but European Central Bank chief economist Philip Lane said recent solid data was not necessarily a good guide and the euro zone economy would need a long time to recover.
Further pressure on prices came from a bigger-than-expected rise in U.S. crude inventories, according to industry group the American Petroleum Institute (API).
However, U.S. gasoline and distillate inventories fell, suggesting consumption was picking up as lockdowns were eased.
U.S. government data will be released on Wednesday.
India’s oil imports in May hit the lowest since October 2011 as refiners with brimming stores of crude cut purchases.
China, the world’s top crude importer, is also expected to slow crude imports in the third quarter, after record purchases in recent months.
U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 13.8 million barrels per day during the week ending June 19, 2020, which was 239,000 thousand barrels per day more than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 74.6% of their operable capacity last week.