US oil prices fall back below zero amid coronavirus crisis
US oil markets have fallen back bellow zero as the coronavirus crisis continues to take a toll on oil demand.
The US oil price – which turned negative for the first time in market history on Monday – climbed above zero overnight before slumping back to -$4.29 a barrel as trading began in Europe on Tuesday. a negative price means that traders are paying customers to take the oil off their hands and it is the result of the US running out of space to store a glut of crude caused by the global coronavirus lockdown.
The West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the benchmark for US crude prices, crashed to -$40 a barrel on Monday as oil storage facilities filled to the brim and producers were forced to pay buyers to take their barrels.
John Browne, who was the head of BP from 1995 to 2007, said the negative US prices Would remain law due to a chronic oversupply of crude in the global market.
” The prices will be very law and I think they will remain low and very volatile for a considerable time, ” Browne told the BBC. “there is still a lot of oil being produced that is going into storage and not being used.
“This is very reminiscent of a time in the mid – 1980s when exactly the same situation happened – to much supply, to title demand and prices of oil stayed low for 17 years.”
The 1980s get sent oil prices tumbling and played a key role in the collapse of the Soviet Union and a political crisis in Algeria which led to a civil war.
The US market collapse marks the first time that the price of imported oil benchmarks has tumbled below zero, and underlines the severity of the crisis facing producers in the months ahead.
The negative prices were for WTI oil delivered in may when demand for crude is forecast to fall to it’s the lowest point and before production cuts intended to ease the market oversupply begin to take effect from next month. The WTI price for oil for delivery in June stands at just over $20 a barrel.
In other global markets, oil prices are significantly lower than they were at the beginning of the year but are faring better than in the US, which faces unique challenges and higher costs to access major storage sites from the landlocked oilfield.
The price of Brent crude, the international oil benchmarks traded at just below $22 a barrel on Tuesday, around two-thirds lower than it was in January before the outbreak of COVID – 19 in China raised concerns in the markets.
Louise Dickson, an oil analyst at the research firm Rystand Energy, said the collapse brought to an end the “price utopia” and ” wishful thinking” that held helped prices defy gravity since the outbreak of the coronavirus.