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Coronavirus: Oil prices surge on hopes of a price war truce

Business LIFESTYLE
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Global oil prices have surged after Donald Trump said he expected Saudi Arabia and Russia to end a feud that has driven oil prices to 18-year lows.

The US president tweeted “I expect & hope” the two countries would agree to cut supply by 10 million barrels “and maybe substantially more”.

His comment came as Saudi Arabia called for an emergency meeting of oil producers.

The Russian energy minister also said his country may re-start talks.

A deal to cut production in response to the drop in demand from coronavirus shutdowns collapsed last month.





Since then, the cost of crude has fallen to lows not seen for almost two decades as Russia and Saudi Arabia slashed prices and ramped up production in a fight for market share.

The stand-off has led US oil to its worst quarter on record. Prices fell by two thirds in the first three months of the year, rocking the energy sector.

The damage has prompted American officials to try to broker a new deal.

Prices jumped more than 30% on hopes of an agreement. The international benchmark, Brent crude, hit $32.78 a barrel at one point and the price of US oil, known as West Texas Intermediate (WTI), reached $26.93.

That put the Brent crude price on track for its biggest one-day gain on record.

Speaking earlier about the dispute at a White House news conference, Mr Trump said: “It’s very bad for Russia, it’s very bad for Saudi Arabia. I mean, it’s very bad for both. I think they’re going to make a deal”.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak addressed the White House discussions in an interview with the Echo Moskvy radio station on Thursday. “We agreed to stay in constant contact, to work out joint measures, which would facilitate stabilisation on the market in nearest future,” he said.

The American oil industry, which Mr Trump described as having been “ravaged”, has just seen the first stock market-traded casualty of the collapse in oil prices.

Shale producer Whiting Petroleum, which was once the largest oil producer in the US state of North Dakota, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday. The company said it had worked to cut costs and would continue to operate under a restructuring plan.

It came as global demand for crude oil was predicted to be almost 23% lower this month than it was a year ago, according to research firm Rystad Energy.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump will reportedly meet the bosses of major energy companies, including Exxon Mobil and Chevron, at the White House on Friday.

They will discuss a range of options that may include possible tariffs on oil imports from Saudi Arabia, according to the Wall Street Journal.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52115442,

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