Coronavirus crisis will erase nearly a decade of oil demand growth

15 April, 2020

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said Wednesday that it expects the coronavirus crisis to erase almost a decade of oil demand growth in 2020, with countries around the world effectively having to shut down in response to the pandemic.

A public health crisis has prompted governments to impose draconian measures on the lives of billions of people. It has created an unprecedented demand shock in energy markets, with mobility brought close to a standstill.

Activity in the transportation sector has fallen dramatically almost everywhere, the IEA said, noting that confinement measures had been implemented in 187 countries and territories in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Even assuming that travel restrictions are eased in the second half of the year, we expect that global oil demand in 2020 will fall by 9.3 million barrels a day versus 2019, erasing almost a decade of growth.”

Oil prices, which were already trading slightly lower Wednesday morning, extended their losses shortly after the report was published.

International benchmark Brent crude traded at around $28.74 a barrel, down more than 2.8%, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) stood at $19.77, down around 1.7%.

WTI futures closed more than 10% lower in the previous session, settling marginally above $20 a barrel, while Brent settled almost 7% lower on Tuesday, slightly below $30.

The IEA’s projections come shortly after oil producers OPEC and its non-OPEC allies, sometimes referred to as OPEC+, finalized a historic agreement to cut oil output along with other producers, including the U.S.

The deal will take 9.7 million barrels per day off the market from May 1.

“The historic decisions taken by OPEC+ and the G-20 should help bring the oil industry back from the brink of an even more serious situation than it currently faces,” the IEA said. “Even so, the implied stock build-up of 12 million barrels per day in the first half of the year still threatens to overwhelm the logistics of the oil industry — ships, pipelines and storage tanks — in the coming weeks.”

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