TIMELINE: The oil market’s 6-week plunge

Agence France-Presse

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TIMELINE: The oil market’s 6-week plunge


Here is a look back at a tumultuous 6-week period for oil, which saw United States prices plummeting to below zero

LONDON, United Kingdom – Oil prices fell into negative territory in New York trading on Monday, April 20, for the first time ever, with the coronavirus pandemic slashing demand and creating a supply glut.

Here we look back at a tumultuous 6-week period for black gold.

March 5

At the start of a two-day meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their “OPEC+” partners including Russia, the price of crude falls below $50 dollars a barrel for the first time since 2017.

For comparison, it reached a record $145 a barrel in 2008.

March 6

The price of oil drops by 10% after the OPEC talks break up without agreement, Russia refusing to reduce their oil output in order to boost the market.

March 9

Markets plunge 20%, nearing $30 a barrel after Saudi Arabia announced it was cutting its oil price. The move triggers a price war with Russia, with the two oil-producing giants seeking to grow their share of the global market.

March 30

The price of oil on the United States and London markets continues to fall to levels unseen since 2002, with the US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) price dipping below $20 dollars a barrel.

April 2

The crude price rebounds by a historic 25% after US President Donald Trump hints that Riyadh and Moscow plan to end their price war with a sharp reduction in output.

April 3

Prices rise another 10% on optimism that an end to the price war is imminent.

April 9

The WTI rises 9% to $22 per barrel after OPEC and its allies reach agreement to reduce production by 10 million barrels per day. However there is nothing OPEC+ can do to halt the drop in demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 20

A journey into the unknown for the oil market. The value of a barrel of oil plummets to below zero as investors and speculators seek to offload into a market so saturated that storage capacity is running out, with no reprieve in sight due to weak demand.

The price for WTI for May delivery ends trading at -$37.63 a barrel ahead of the close on Tuesday, April 21, for futures contracts – when traders who buy and sell the commodity for profit would have had to take physical possession of it.

“It’s a contract for something that nobody wants to buy,” said Matt Smith of ClipperData. – Rappler.com

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