Oil prices remain volatile after record-breaking negative plunge

The price of Brent crude oil fell below 23 a barrel

Oil markets have plunged in recent weeks as lockdowns and travel restrictions to fight the coronavirus around the world batter demand.

The Gulf is a major gateway for oil to reach global markets, and spikes in US-Iran tensions typically drive prices higher.

United States benchmark West Texas Intermediate for May delivery was changing hands at $0.56 a barrel after closing at -$37.63 in NY.

The market was also inundated with low-priced oil after Saudi Arabia launched a price war with Russian Federation.

The difference between the expiring May U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude contract and the coming June contract widened to a record at more than $60 a barrel and settled at $51.90.

"The WTI May futures contract is due to expire on Tuesday, forcing any holders of that contract to accept physical delivery", ANZ Bank said in a note. The Texas Railroad Commission, meanwhile, opted to put off a decision on whether to impose oil-production quotas.

Usually this process is relatively uncomplicated, but the May contract's decline reflects worries that too much supply could hit the markets, with shipments out of OPEC nations like Saudi Arabia booked in March set to cause a glut. The thinly traded May contract closed at US$10.01 a barrel.

The collapse is reverberating across the oil industry, with prices trading below zero across America on Monday.

Available storage space is dropping fast at the Cushing, Oklahoma, hub, where physical delivery of US oil barrels bought in the futures market takes place. Royal Vopak NV, the world's biggest independent storage company, said nearly all of its space is sold. Analysts expected gasoline stocks to rise by 3.7 million barrels last week.

The Dated Brent benchmark, a global reference for almost two thirds of the world's physical flows, plunged to US$13.24 a barrel on Tuesday, its lowest since 1999, according to price reporting agency S&P Global Platts.

Commercial crude oil inventories in the US rose by 15 million barrels, or 3%, to 518.6 million barrels for the week ending April 17, according to data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday.



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