Oil Sheds Over 3% as OPEC, JTC Wade in to Stop Further Drop
By Adedapo Adesanya
Oil futures recorded more than three percent drop on Monday, February 3 as fears surrounding the coronavirus and its impact on oil demand continue to pull prices further.
Brent crude fell $2.28 or 4.10 percent to $54.32 per barrel on Monday night, while the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell $1.46 or 2.83 percent to settle at $50.10. Earlier at the session, the WTI posted below $50 to trade at $49.
Markets continue to face drop as a result of the coronavirus, which analysts consider the largest demand shock faced by the oil market since the global financial crisis of 2008 to 2009, and the most sudden since the September 11 attacks.
This continuous dip has forced the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, including Russia, to consider an emergency meeting on February 14-15, one of the OPEC sources said, earlier than a current schedule for a meeting in March that could see further cut on production to stop the decline in prices.
Meanwhile, an OPEC and non-OPEC panel called the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) has scheduled a meeting for February 4 and 5 in Vienna to assess the impact of the virus on demand.
Oil, last month, fell more than $10 a barrel to $56, lower than the level many OPEC countries need to balance their budgets, such as Nigeria with a $57 stipulated price already affected and de-facto leader, Saudi Arabia which has a benchmark of $80 per barrel.
The outbreak could cut China’s oil demand by nothing less than 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the first quarter of the year, according to analysts. The country consumes about 14 million barrels a day and with any change in demand, it affects the global energy market.
An OPEC member, Iran, said on Monday that the spread of the virus had hit oil demand and called for the need to stabilise prices. This backs up call made by the Russian Energy Minister, Mr Alexander Novak, last week when he said Russia was ready to bring forward a meeting to February from March to address a possible change to global oil demand from the virus.
OPEC officials had been scheduled to meet in early March with Russia and their other non-OPEC partners to review their production deal, and possibly increase their cut from 1.7 million barrels agreed upon last year to a higher cut.
There are considerations by members that the meeting could lead the alliance to cut their oil output by a further 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) to reach 2.2 million bpd to stifle declines.
There are also reports that discussions were ongoing to consider extending the duration of the cuts set to expire by March to June.