In the latest sign that the planet economy is collapsing into a region , the worth of oil dropped below zero for the primary time ever Monday,
with futures for U.S. crude delivered in May wrapping up at negative $37.63 per barrel. In practical terms,
this suggests that anybody who is meant to receive a shipment of yank crude but doesn’t want it’ll need to pay somebody else to require it.
How come? Because we are actually running out of places to place all of the additional oil we’re not using, because people have stopped driving,
flying, or living any semblance of normal life while the country descends into a state of coronavirus-induced catatonia. because the Wall Street Journal puts it:
“The historic low price reflects uncertainty about what buyers would even do with a barrel of crude within the near term. Refineries, storage facilities, pipelines and even ocean tankers have filled up rapidly since billions of individuals round the world began sheltering in situ to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.”
this is often happening despite the deal Donald Trump helped broker between Russia and Saudi Arabia to chop production and stabilize prices. Good try, good effort, I guess.
Buyers are still willing to pay positive sums of cash for crude delivered later within the year.
Contracts for June closed the day above $20 a barrel, which suggests that traders expect the present glut to ease up a touch ,
either thanks to further production cuts or because they think the economy will have recovered ever slightly by then. they only really don’t want to be liable for handling a bunch of hydrocarbons immediately .
This state of affairs—when a commodity’s price is higher within the future than the present—is referred to as contango, by the way,
and while that tiny little bit of vocab is in no way essential to understanding what’s happening , it’s possibly my favorite little bit of financial marketese. It’s sort of a tango, but contagious.
The storage problem also appears to be worst within the us . CNN notes that investors are especially worried that storage is reaching capacity in Cushing,
Oklahoma, the domestic industry’s key transit hub. Brent crude, the international benchmark variety that mostly gets shipped out on tankers,
remains trading at $25.70, presumably because it’s a wider market and there are just more places to stow the things .
Meanwhile, Politico leaves us with this little bit of dark comedy:
To make matters worse, a gaggle of oil tankers that left Saudi Arabia before the country agreed to chop production is currently heading toward the U.S.
That oil will further strain storage capacity unless another country buys them before they reach the U.S.
“It’s like some movie from the 1980s where the U.S. president and therefore the Soviet premier come to an agreement” to halt a nuclear war,
“[but] one plane missed the decision back,” said one industry official tracking the ships but wasn’t authorized to talk to the press.
Anyway, a protracted oil bust goes to possess a devastating effect on energy jobs across the us ,
while low prices could make it difficult to transition faraway from fossil fuels so as to save lots of the earth from melting.
And if you’ve got a shipment of crude coming in, get wont to saying the words, “Take my oil, please.”