Oil Drops On IEA Predictions Of Demand Decline

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Thursday March 26, 2020

After three days of gains, concern about the coronavirus's impact on worldwide demand again took prominence and caused crude prices on Thursday to slip by over 7 percent.

West Texas Intermediate slipped 7.7 percent, or $1.89, to settle at $22.60 per barrel, while Brent fell $1.01, or 3.69 percent, to trade at $26.43 per barrel.

The losses were said to have been incurred partly due to Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, warning that demand could drop by as much as 20 million barrels per day (bpd), and by the White House deciding to rescind a crude buying offer after failing to win funding from Congress.

Mike Hiley, president of OTC Futures, summarized the pessimism of many of his colleagues by stating, "Oil is going to continue to be stuck in this rut given the simultaneous supply and demand shocks.

"Stimulus doesn't really help these issues: just because people have more money in their pockets doesn't mean they're getting in their cars."

Meanwhile, Reuters noted that oil producers are selling their crude "in the physical market at lower prices not seen since the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s" - as low as $8 per barrel in the case of Venezuela's Merey crude.

Thursday also saw the usual under reported positive developments emerging from the worldwide battle to defeat the coronavirus, this time from Dr. Nicole Saphier, radiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

She told media that in her city, which is the U.S. epicentre of the virus with over 20,000 cases and 280 deaths, a stay at home order was issued on Sunday when the number of coronavirus cases was doubling every two days, "But by Monday it was taking 3.4 days for doubling of cases, and on Tuesday night it was actually 4.7 days for doubling of cases.

"That is good news: that means we're slowing, [and] even though we're doing more tests than before in New York, the time that it takes to double the cases is actually elongating."

Saphier said that although the U.S. is still in the acceleration phase of the pandemic, "we may be a hitting an equilibrium sooner than we thought and these numbers are encouraging in that the stay at home measures are working."

This comes on the heels of the disclosure earlier this week that the virus does not mutate in the same manner as influenza, giving hope that it will require only one vaccine.