Oil falls as rising virus cases overshadow demand recovery

An oil tanker ship at a port in Burgas, Bulgaria. Most market participants expect more downward pressure on oil, with COVID-19 ravaging the landscape. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 05 August 2020

Oil falls as rising virus cases overshadow demand recovery

  • Declines come after WTI rose 1.8% and Brent climbed 1.5% on Monday; renewed lockdowns weigh on prices

LONDON: Oil prices eased on Tuesday on concerns that a fresh wave of COVID-19 infections will hamper a global demand recovery just as major producers ramp up output.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 67 cents, or 1.6 percent, at $40.34 a barrel, while Brent crude dropped 71 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $43.44.
The declines come after WTI rose 1.8 percent and Brent climbed 1.5 percent on Monday on better than expected data on manufacturing activity in Asia, Europe and the United States.
News from Asia and Europe is adding to concerns that the infection crisis may be spreading in a global second wave, not just in the United States and Brazil, said Paola Rodriguez Masiu of Rystad Energy.

HIGHLIGHTS

• News from Asia and Europe is adding to concerns that the infection crisis may be spreading in a global second wave, not just in the United States and Brazil, said Paola Rodriguez Masiu of Rystad Energy.

• Producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, together known as OPEC+, are raising output this month, adding about 1.5 million barrels per day of supply.

• Analysts estimate that US refined product stockpiles rose last week, according to a preliminary poll ahead of data from the American Petroleum Institute and the US government on Wednesday.

Denting fuel demand, cities from Manila to Melbourne are tightening lockdowns to battle new infections, while Norway has stopped cruise ship traffic in the latest European travel alarm.
In a further sign of a patchy rebound in demand, analysts estimate that US refined product stockpiles rose last week, according to a preliminary Reuters poll ahead of data from the American Petroleum Institute and the US government on Wednesday.
At the same time, producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, together known as OPEC+, are raising output this month, adding about 1.5 million barrels per day of supply. US producers also plan to restart shut-in production.
“Most oil market participants expect more downward pressure on oil ... with COVID-19 ravaging the landscape and OPEC+ adding more barrels into play,” said Stephen Innes, Chief Global Markets Strategist at AxiCorp.


Bailout will keep Air France-KLM afloat for less than year: CEO

Updated 21 September 2020

Bailout will keep Air France-KLM afloat for less than year: CEO

  • ‘If we base it upon the past few weeks, it is clear that the recovery in traffic will be slower than expected’
  • Governments are coming under pressure to tie airline bailouts to environmental commitments

PARIS: Bailouts provided to Air France-KLM by the French and Dutch governments will keep the airline flying less than a year, its CEO Benjamin Smith said Monday and evoked the possibility of injecting new capital.
In an interview with the French daily l’Opinion, Smith also warned that calls for airlines to contribute more to fight climate change could be catastrophic for their survival which is already under threat due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When countries imposed lockdowns earlier this year to stem the spread of the coronavirus airlines faced steep drops in revenue that have claimed several carriers.
A number of countries stepped in with support, including France which provided $8.2 billion to Air France and the Netherlands which received a $2.9 billion package.
“This support will permit us to hold on less than 12 months,” said Smith.
The reason is that air traffic is picking up very slowly as many northern hemisphere countries are now fearing a second wave of infections.
“If we base it upon the past few weeks, it is clear that the recovery in traffic will be slower than expected,” according to Smith, who said when the bailout was put together the airline was expecting a return to 2019 levels only in 2024.
Smith said discussions were already underway with shareholders on shoring up the airline group, and steps would be taken before the next regular annual meeting in the second quarter of next year.
“One, three or five billion euros? It is too early to put a figure on a possible recapitalization,” he said.
The airline group had $12.12 billion in cash or available under credit lines.
Major shareholders include the French government with a 14.3 percent stake, the Dutch government at 14 percent, as well as Delta and China Eastern airlines which each hold an 8 percent stake.
Governments are coming under pressure to tie airline bailouts to environmental commitments.
One proposal that has come from a citizen’s convention convoked by President Emmanuel Macron would cost airlines an estimated $3.6 billion.
Smith said the imposition of environmental charges on the industry would be “irresponsible and catastrophic” for Air France-KLM.