Crude Prices Mixed on Inventory Build as Czech, Denmark, and Other Countries Reopen Their Economies

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Wednesday April 15, 2020

Predictably, news on Wednesday that the U.S. experienced the biggest weekly inventory increase of 19 million barrels caused mixed trading for the commodity - however, the current price levels while calamitous are not without precedent.

Brent dropped $1.17, or 3.9 percent, to $28.43 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate rose 6 cents to $20.17; Brent, incidentally, hit $21.65 on March 30 2002.

Although most analysts predict a slow recovery for crude demand starting in the third quarter of this year, Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, saw fit to commemorate the current gloom by stating in his monthly report that "In a few years' time, when we look back on 2020 we may well see that it was the worst year in the history of global oil markets.

"During that terrible year, the second quarter may well have been the worst of the lot: during that quarter, April may well have been the worst month - it may go down as Black April in the history of the oil industry."

If so, it won't be helped by Mexico, whose paltry 100,000 barrel per day (bpd) contribution to the recent agreement by global oil producers to remove 9.7 million bpd from the market will only apply during May and June, it was disclosed Wednesday (by comparison, the output reduction agreement will last for several years).

But Dan Brouillette, energy secretary for the U.S., echoed the sentiments of the countries participating in the cutbacks by remarking it has worked to "stem the tide, stem the damage that was being done to the market," and he added that with regards to prices "I think we may be at the floor."

Of course, all of this is a result of the coronavirus prompting governments to impose draconian measures on the lives of billions of people, and Wednesday's news lent further credence to the notion that concern over the ruined economy is rapidly replacing fear of the virus itself, and that health officials are increasingly focused on relaxing mitigation guidelines.

On Wednesday hundreds of vehicles surrounded Michigan's state capital to protest what citizens believe are social distancing measures gone way too far; organizer Meshawn Maddock said, "Every person has learned a harsh lesson about social distancing, we don't need a nanny state to tell people how to be careful."

The so-called "Operation Gridlock" is just one of a number of demonstrations of civil disobedience around the country and coincides with Czech Republic, Italy, Denmark, Austria, and Germany reopening their economies, albeit slowly, amid growing concern that the impact of mitigation may be more harmful than a disease whose death rate to date is a fraction of that of malaria, HIV/AIDS, the common flu, and many other afflictions.

Meanwhile, as hospitalization and death rates slowly abate across the globe, Kizzmekia Corbett, the lead scientist for coronavirus vaccine research for the National Institute of Health, told CNN that a vaccine for coronavirus could possibly be available to the general public by next spring.