Coronavirus impact on oil demand limited, says Saudi energy minister

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud. (Reuters)
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Updated 28 January 2020

Coronavirus impact on oil demand limited, says Saudi energy minister

  • Minister recalls 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome did not push down oil demand

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has urged caution against “gloomy expectations” regarding the possible impact of the spread of the coronavirus on the global economy and oil demand.
The death toll from a coronavirus outbreak in China rose to 81 on Monday with more than 2,700 infected as health authorities around the world stepped up screening of passengers from China.
Crude prices fell about 3 percent on Monday as the rising number of cases of the coronavirus and China’s city lockdowns and extension of its Lunar New Year holiday deepened concerns over oil demand.
But Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman said the impact being seen on oil and other markets was “primarily driven by psychological factors and extremely negative expectations adopted by some market participants despite its very limited impact on global oil demand.”
“Such extreme pessimism occurred back in 2003 during the SARS outbreak, though it did not cause a significant reduction in oil demand,” the minister said in a statement.


Fellow Gulf OPEC oil producer UAE echoed the Saudi minister’s comments.
“It is important that we do not exaggerate projections related to future decreases in oil demand due to events in China,” UAE Minister of Energy Suhail Al-Mazrouei said.
In March “OPEC and OPEC+ member countries will discuss market conditions and, if required, all options to ensure continued market balance,” he said.
The Saudi minister said OPEC and its allies could respond to any impact on the oil market, adding he was confident the Chinese and international authorities could contain the virus.
Brent crude slid $1.37 a barrel to settle down at $59.32, its lowest since late October and the biggest intra-day fall since Jan. 8.
US crude fell $1.05 to settle at $53.14 a barrel.
Prince Abdul Aziz said he was confident the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers, a group known as OPEC+, “have the capability and flexibility needed to respond to any developments.”
Oman’s oil minister told Reuters on Monday that he fully supported Saudi Arabia’s readiness to react to any impact the virus has on the market.


OPEC+, which includes Russia, has been reducing oil supply to support prices and has agreed to hold back 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of output until the end of March.
Prince Abdul Aziz said all options were open when OPEC+ meets in Vienna in March.
An OPEC source said on Monday that there were “preliminary discussions” among OPEC+ for an extension of the current oil supply cuts beyond March, and a possible deeper cut was also an option, if there was a need, and if the China virus spread impacted oil demand.


Saudi Aramco appoints Mark Weinberger to Board of Directors

Updated 05 April 2020

Saudi Aramco appoints Mark Weinberger to Board of Directors

  • Weinberger, who replaces Andrew Gould, also serves as a director on the boards of Johnson & Johnson and Metlife
  • Weinberger was an active member of the US government, having worked across different administrations

DUBAI: Oil giant Saudi Aramco has appointed the former chairman of global firm EY (previously known as Ernst & Young) Mark Weinberger as an independent member to its board of directors, the company said in a statement.

Weinberger, who replaces Andrew Gould, also serves as a director on the boards of Johnson & Johnson and Metlife.

He is a member of several boards of trustees, including the United States Council for International Business (USCIB).

“I am honored to be joining the board of Aramco at this important time in the company’s history and world events,” Weinberger said.

Weinberger was an active member of the US government, having worked across different administrations – from George W. Bush to Donald Trump.