Brent crude oil rises after hitting lowest this century on coronavirus crisis

A worker stands across a pumpjack operating in the desert oil fields of Sakhir in southern Bahrain. (AFP)
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Updated 22 April 2020

Brent crude oil rises after hitting lowest this century on coronavirus crisis

  • International benchmark Brent crude, which fell 24 percent in the previous session, touched $15.98 a barrel on Wednesday

LONDON: Brent crude oil rose on Wednesday after slumping below $16 a barrel to its lowest since 1999, supported by voluntary as well as the prospect of forced production cuts to tackle a glut caused by the coronavirus crisis.
This month, OPEC+ agreed new oil output curbs but global measures to prevent the virus spreading have driven demand down more steeply. The price drop is also expected to drive output curbs for economic reasons or due to a lack of storage.
International benchmark Brent crude, which fell 24 percent in the previous session, touched $15.98 a barrel on Wednesday, hitting its lowest since June 1999. By 1225 GMT, it had recovered to $19.72, up 39 cents or 2 percent.
US West Texas Intermediate was up 9 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $11.66.
“Overall, we are at price levels which will have a strong impact on production worldwide,” said Olivier Jakob, oil analyst at Petromatrix. “We are getting close to $5 a barrel for some crude grades.”
The prospect of supply outstripping demand for several months, at least, led to two of the wildest oil trading days in history this week. The nearby US contract fell into negative territory for the first time ever on Monday.
“Be prepared for more surprises in this broken oil market,” said Rystad Energy’s head of oil markets, Bjornar Tonhaugen.
Wednesday’s low for Brent took prices back to a time when OPEC was also tackling a supply glut and business and consumers were concerned — unnecessarily as it turned out — about the Millennium Bug affecting computers after the turn of the century.
In the latest sign of excess supply, the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday reported that US crude inventories rose by 13.2 million barrels.
The US government’s official supply report is due later on Wednesday.
Although OPEC+ agreed this month to reduce output by 9.7 million bpd, starting from May, producers are already considering further steps.
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday said it was ready to take extra measures with other producers. Iraq made similar comments, although the next formal OPEC+ meeting is in June.
The United States and other countries also said this month they would pump less, bolstering efforts by OPEC+.
But in a development that raises doubt over a formal US supply cut, two of three Texas regulators on Tuesday delayed a vote to force producers to curtail output.


Abu Dhabi fund suspends debt service repayments for countries, companies

Updated 25 min 23 sec ago

Abu Dhabi fund suspends debt service repayments for countries, companies

  • Debt service repayments would be suspended for eligible countries and individual companies from Jan. 1 until Dec. 31

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has suspended debt service repayments for some countries and companies for the year, the state-financed fund said on Sunday.
The fund provides financial assistance to companies in the United Arab Emirates and to developing countries, which has included Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.
Debt service repayments would be suspended for eligible countries and individual companies from Jan. 1 until Dec. 31, the fund said in a statement.
It did not say which countries or companies would benefit or what the criteria would need to be met to be eligible.
“At a time when the world is reeling under the effect of the pandemic ... it is imperative for us to support particularly those that need it most, especially the low-income countries,” the fund’s director general Mohammed Saif Al-Suwaidi said.