Oil prices volatile as virus saps demand

Oil prices volatile as virus saps demand”

As a support measure for US drillers, the administration plans to initially purchase 30 million barrels for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in May and June, and buy as much as 77 million barrels of oil in total over time.

U.S crude oil prices edged higher on Friday, extending gains after a 24 per cent jump the previous day, buoyed by hints from U.S. President Donald Trump he may intervene in the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation at an "appropriate time".

Trump said on Thursday that he would act on the price war at the appropriate time, saying low gasoline prices were good for US consumers even though they are hurting the industry.

Texas's main oil regulator is weighing for the first time in almost half a century whether the state should cut crude output, a move that would have an enormous business and political impact.

The more active May contract slid $3.28 to $22.63 a barrel.Brent for May settlement fell $1.49 to settle at $26.98 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.

U.S. West Texas International and international-benchmark Brent crude oil finished sharply lower on Friday, almost erasing all of the previous session's record one day gains.

In the last several years, shale operators using the innovative hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, technique, have boosted US oil output to almost 13 million barrels per day, making it the world's largest producer.

Even if cuts are agreed at some point, they "alone will not be enough to see prices fully recover the lost ground over the last month", said Peter Kiernan, energy analyst from the Economist Intelligence Unit. "At the appropriate time I'll get involved". The American Exploration and Production Council said in a March 12 letter that it needs Trump's help in ensuring "restoration of a functioning, stable, global market for oil". The price war comes during a time of severely reduced global demand due to the spread of the coronavirus, and the oversupply and demand strain have pushed crude prices to near 20-year lows this week.

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