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Coronavirus Pandemic: US Oil Prices Hit 18-year Low as Lockdowns and Restrictions Spread

Drilling rigs in operation(Reuters). Representative image

Drilling rigs in operation(Reuters). Representative image

The last time oil was trading that low, China had only begun its rise as a major global economic power that propelled the world’s oil consumption to record highs in subsequent years.

Oil prices fell for a third session on Wednesday with U.S. crude futures tumbling to an 18-year low as travel and social lockdowns sparked by the coronavirus epidemic knocked the outlook for demand.

U.S. crude was down $2.51 cents, or over 9%, at $24.44 per barrel by 1219 GMT, having earlier fallen to $24.42, its lowest since mid-2002.

The last time oil was trading that low, China had only begun its rise as a major global economic power that propelled the world’s oil consumption to record highs in subsequent years.

Brent crude was trading down $1.39, or nearly 5%, at $27.34 a barrel, after dropping to $27.31, its lowest since early 2016.

“The oil demand collapse from the spreading coronavirus looks increasingly sharp,” Goldman Sachs said in a note forecasting a fall in the price of Brent to as low as $20 in the second quarter, a level not seen since early 2002.

first published:March 18, 2020, 19:16 IST