At some moment this week, Brent crude oil fell just below $16 per barrel, a level not seen in 21 years. The Brent fall came as WTI crude dropped below zero a few days ago.
Brent plummeted to as low as $15.98 per barrel on April 22, dipping by more than 24%. The benchmark has not plumbed such depths since 1999.
On April 21, the US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude, was at ~$10 per barrel after briefly trading at an unprecedented -$37.63.
In recent months, the global oil market suffered major blows as a result of the global economic crisis, the COVID-19 related lockdowns and the Saudi attack on oil prices. Despite the recent OPEC+ deal, which restricted output of the participating member states, the Saudi attack on the oil market continued. Now, the Kingdom is working to destabilize it slashing own prices on particular markets.
These factros amid the global isntability as a result of the pandemic contribute to the further instability on the market.
Seller Pays Buyer: In Historic First, U.S. Crude Oil Sells For Negative Price (source):
The original article appeared in Russian, written by Mikhail Delyagin, named “WTI in London Drops to -$39.44”
HINT: It appeared that it didn’t exactly drop to -$39.44, but a bit less.
April 20th was the last day of trading in May futures, if I’m not mistaken.
That is, if the speculators does manage to sell his crude oil, he will have to receive this oil physically, because he has no physical position to offset them (and what would he do with it?).
That’s all: speculators traded on a “business as usual” basis, and squeezing demand by a third sharply reduced the circle of buyers who were ready to receive this crude oil in May – they preferred to wait until June (although the storage capacities, contrary to idle gossip, were still not completely filled), since it is not clear what to do with it in May.
And in order not to fall into a trap of having oil, with which it is unclear what to do, the speculator is forced to get rid of futures – at any cost and under any conditions.
Therefore, the American benchmark crude oil – WTI on the London Stock Exchange fell so sharp, that for the first time in history its price was -$37.63 [Original number is -$39.44 but all reports and stats show that it “only fell” to -37.63] per barrel, for delivery in May, and with delivery in June – it fell by 19%, to nearly $21. And the European benchmark Brent crude fell by less than 18%.
On April 21st, the price opened at -$14, and recovered to around -$8.
But from a fundamental point of view, the situation when the oil supplier pays the buyer almost $40 per barrel (which is almost twice the current price for June futures) certainly opens a new era – in an era when money can no longer be the “universal equivalent.”
A negative price, even for a financial instrument, is a much more serious phenomenon than a negative bank interest (albeit from the same series).
In the case of negative bank interest, activity in itself, the production of something becomes more important than its assessment; in the case of a negative price for the obligation of delivery (futures), this is not just a marginal, it is a “no brakes” expression of overproduction, it is an indicator that the manufacturer does not produce for the sake of money.