Brent crude futures rose 72 cents, or 0.9%, to $79.76 a barrel by 0103 GMT while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was at $74.89 a barrel, up 60 cents, or 0.8%.
China, the world’s top crude oil importer and No. 2 oil consumer, is experiencing its first of three expected waves of COVID-19 cases after Beijing relaxed mobility restrictions.
“Despite a surge in COVID cases, the reopening optimism and accommodative policy improve oil’s demand outlook,” CMC Markets analyst Tina Teng said.
On Friday, news outlet Caixin reported that China’s plans to increase flights with a goal to restore the country’s average daily passenger flight volumes to 70% of 2019 levels by Jan. 6.
China’s diesel and gasoline exports continued to surge in November to their highest level in over a year as refiners dashed to use up their 2022 export quotas and sell down rising inventory.
Brent and WTI rose more than 3% last week as a Canada to U.S. pipeline remained shut with its operator TC Energy Corp focused on cleaning up an oil spill. The shutdown of the pipeline, with a capacity to send 622,000 barrels per day of Canadian crude to U.S. refiners, has supported prices for U.S. heavy crude grades.
An announcement by the U.S. Energy Department on Friday that it will begin repurchasing crude oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve also supported outlook for stronger prices.
This will be the United States’ first purchase since this year’s record 180 million barrel release from the stockpile.