Crude oil fell by the most since 1991 on Monday after Saudi Arabia started a price war with Russia by slashing its selling prices and pledging to unleash its pent-up supply onto a market reeling from falling demand because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Brent crude futures fell by as much as $14.25, or 31.5 per cent, to $31.02 a barrel. That was the biggest percentage drop since January 17, 1991, at the start of the first Gulf War and the lowest since February 12, 2016.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell by as much as $11.28, or 27.4 per cent, to $30 a barrel. That was also the biggest percentage drop since the first Gulf War in January 1991 and the lowest since February 22, 2016. It was trading at $32.61.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is attempting to punish Russia, the world’s second-largest producer, for balking on Friday at production cuts proposed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
OPEC and other producers supported the cuts to stabilize falling prices caused by the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.
Saudi Arabia plans to boost crude output above 10 million barrels per day (bpd) in April after the current supply deal between OPEC and Russia, – known as OPEC+ – expires at the end of March, two sources told news agency Reuters on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia, Russia, and other major producers last battled for market share like this between 2014 and 2016 to try to squeeze out production from the United States, now the world’s biggest oil producer as flows from shale oil fields doubled the country’s output during the last decade.
“Saudi Arabia and Russia are entering into an oil price war that is likely to be limited and tactical,” Eurasia Group said in a note.