Apr 20, 2020 - Energy & Environment

U.S. crude prices slide

Pump jacks draw crude oil from the Long Beach Oil Field under Discovery Well Park in Signal Hill, California, on March 9
Pump jacks draw crude oil from the Long Beach Oil Field under Discovery Well Park in Signal Hill, California. Photo: David McNew/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. crude prices plummeted in Asian trading hours Monday morning amid concerns about where to store the excess oil the world isn't using while countries are on lockdown over the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Our thought bubble, per Axios' Amy Harder: The story with the oil industry remains the same despite the OPEC deal this month to steeply cut oil production: There’s too much oil, too few places to put it and far too little demand for it."

What's new: Prices on the May contract for West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 15.54% to $15.43 a barrel, and the global benchmark Brent crude dropped 0.68% to $27.89 a barrel.

  • "The OPEC deal was always about making the situation a little less terrible, not reversing it," Harder notes. "The latest oil prices reflect that the storage part of this situation is getting more dire, and it will continue to do so."

Flashback: Global oil storage is "rapidly filling — exceeding 70% and approaching operating max," Steve Puckett, executive chairman of TRI-ZEN International, an energy consultancy, told CNBC this month.

Go deeper: A world locked down and drowning in oil

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