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US Crude Plummets 19 as Virus Pandemic Ravages Oil Demand

U.S. crude prices plunged in afternoon Asian trade on Monday as traders continued to fret over a slump in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic — and one analyst described the situation stateside as “quite dire.” Prices on the May contract for West Texas Intermediate crude futures tanked 19% to $14.80 per barrel. Earlier, WTI for May delivery fell to $14.47 per barrel — its lowest level since mid-March 1999 when it traded for as low as $14.40 per barrel. Meanwhile, international benchmark Brent crude futures edged 2.8% lower to $27.28 per barrel.

us crude prices plunge april 20

ANZ’s Daniel Hynes told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday that one of the reasons behind the “crater” in U.S. crude prices was the impending expiration of the May futures contract, set to happen on Tuesday, according to Refinitiv. The June WTI contract fell 5.87% to $23.56 per barrel.

The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a severe blow to economic activity around the globe and sapped demand for energy. While OPEC and its oil producing allies finalized a historic agreement earlier this month to cut production by 9.7 million barrels per day, the International Energy Agency has warned that the cuts may not be enough to offset a severe plunge in oil demand.

With demand at near-paralysis, oil and fuel tanks around the world are close to brimming — a stark evidence of the global glut and a function of the “contango” structure of the futures market, where contracts for later delivery trade at a premium to the front-month.

That’s led to a dash by traders to lease floating or onshore storage in a bid to sell the fuel for a profit when prices rebound. Global oil storage is “rapidly filling – exceeding 70% and approaching operating max,” Steve Puckett, executive chairman of TRI-ZEN International, an energy consultancy, told CNBC earlier this month.

US crude plummets 19% as coronavirus pandemic ravages oil demand, CNBC, Apr 20

Source: FXPro