Oil futures on April 20 dipped into negative territory for the first time ever as the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic left traders desperate to avoid taking delivery of physical crude.
U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate for May delivery ended trading at minus $37.63 per barrel ahead of the April 21 close for futures contracts.
June contracts were still above $21 a barrel.
Meanwhile, Brent Crude, the benchmark used by Europe and the rest of the world, was down almost 9 percent at less than $26 a barrel.
The collapse of global oil prices is due to the ongoing widespread economic slowdown caused by governments imposing restrictions on businesses and individuals in a bid to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
It also coincides with the surge in supplies by major oil-producing countries that occurred after Russia and OPEC failed in March to agree on a deal to cut production, prompting a price war.
Moscow and Saudi Arabia — the world’s biggest oil producer — later reversed course, and reached agreement to limit some pumping, but that has done little to stop the drop in prices.
The price collapse has begun to worry governments that rely on revenues from oil and gas exports. That includes both Russia and Saudi Arabia, as well as Venezuela and Iran.