Oil prices fell more than 2% on Monday, as rising omicron infections from the coronavirus in Europe and the US fueled investor fears that new business restrictions to combat its spread could slash fuel demand.
Brent crude futures fell $1.92, or 2.6 percent, to $71.60 a barrel by 0436 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude fell $2.09, or 3 percent, to $68.77 a barrel.
Kelvin Wong, the market analyst at CMC Markets, said the drop in oil appeared to be consistent with the decline in the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 stock indices.
He attributed the decline to fears of imminent restrictions on economic activity to contain the spread of Omicron globally.
On the other hand, US energy companies this week increased oil and natural gas rigs for the second week in a row.