Published: 2020-04-21 09:28
Last Updated: 2021-06-20 00:19
The price of US oil has turned negative for the first time in history, meaning that oil producers are paying buyers to take the commodity off their hands over fears that storage capacity could run out in May.
The price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the benchmark for US oil, fell as low as minus $37.63 a barrel.
June prices for WTI were also down, but trading at above $20 per barrel. Meanwhile, Brent Crude - the benchmark used by Europe and the rest of the world - was also weaker, down 8.9% at less than $26 a barrel.
The severe drop today was driven in part by a technicality of the global oil market. Oil is traded on its future price and May futures contracts are due to expire on Tuesday. Traders were keen to offload those holdings to avoid having to take delivery of the oil and incur storage costs.
Demand for oil has all but dried up as lockdowns across the world have kept people inside.
As a result, oil firms have resorted to renting tankers to store the surplus supply and that has forced the price of US oil into negative territory.