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April 22, 2020

Oil prices plunge to 20-year low as coronavirus hits demand

Oil prices have declined, falling to their lowest since 1999, as the evaporation of demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic has left the market awash with excess supply.

By Himaja Ganta

Oil prices have fallen to their lowest level since 1999, as the coronavirus pandemic has left the market with tiny demand and excess supply.

According to Reuters, Brent crude (LCOc1) trading was down $1.83 to $17.50 a barrel. It fell 24% in the previous trading session touching $15.98 a barrel.

Meanwhile, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) CLc1 was down $0.15, at $11.42 a barrel.

Data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed that the US crude inventories rose by 13.2 million barrels.

Rystad Energy oil markets head Bjornar Tonhaugen said: “Be prepared for more surprises in this broken oil market.

Tonhaugen said prices could sink to lows never seen before, as there would not be enough storage capacity without further outputs cuts.

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The falls come on the heels of two of the wildest days in the history of oil trading, as worldwide supply is expected to affect demand for the coming months.

The front-month US contract fell into negative territory for the first time in history on 20 April and set a record for the number of contracts traded on 21 April, the news agency said.

Global cases of Covid-19 have passed 2.47 million and over 170,000 deaths are reported worldwide. One third of the world’s total cases (787,960) and a quarter of global deaths (42,518) from Covid-19 infection are reported from the US alone.

With industry on lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, demand for fuel has tumbled by 30%, resulting in a record surplus of crude oil in need of storage.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia said that it was ready to take additional measures alongside other producers. The next formal OPEC+ meeting is not expected until June.

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