Pedestrians cross a road near fuel pipelines and oil storage tanks at Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, on March 30, 2020. Picture: DHIRAJ SINGH/BLOOMBERG
Pedestrians cross a road near fuel pipelines and oil storage tanks at Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, on March 30, 2020. Picture: DHIRAJ SINGH/BLOOMBERG

Seoul — Oil recovered ground on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to talks to stabilise energy markets, with benchmarks climbing off 18-year lows hit as the coronavirus outbreak cut fuel demand worldwide.

Brent crude was up by 43c, or 1.9%, at $23.19 a barrel by 4.06am GMT, after closing on Monday at $22.76, its lowest finish since November 2002.

US crude was up by $1.16, or 5.8%, at $21.26 a barrel, after settling in the earlier session at $20.09, lowest since February 2002.

Oil markets have faced a double whammy from the coronavirus outbreak and a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia after the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and other producers failed to agree on deeper cuts to support oil prices in early March.

Trump and Putin agreed during a phone call to have their top energy officials discuss stabilising oil markets, the Kremlin said on Monday.

“Oil prices are clawing back from a near 18-year low on hopes that oversupply concerns may finally see some relief,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at broker Oanda.

“Much of the focus has fallen on a key call between the presidents of the US and Russia,” Moya said.

With a plunge in prices that has knocked about 60% off oil this year, a commissioner with the Texas state energy regulator renewed his call for restrictions on crude production because of the national supply glut.

In a sign of how well the market is supplied, the front-month Brent futures contract for May is now at a discount of $13.95 a barrel to the November contract, the widest contango spread seen. A contango market implies traders expect oil to be higher in the future, prompting them to store oil for later sales.

Saudi Arabia, de facto leader of Opec, plans to boost its oil exports to 10.6-million barrels a day from May on lower domestic consumption, a Saudi energy ministry official said.

Global oil refiners, meanwhile, have cut their throughput because of the slump in demand for transportation fuel, with European refineries slashing output by at least 1.3-million barrels a day, sources told Reuters.

UBS estimated global oil demand to fall by 1.2-million barrels a day, or 1.2%, over the whole of 2020, weighed down by the coronavirus pandemic, the Swiss bank said in a note.

Others, including the chief economist for global commodities trader Trafigura, have said that oil demand could fall as much as 30% from the end of last year over coming weeks.

Reuters

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