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Coronavirus has become objective reality and it is time to talk about its consequences, which are likely to be felt for a long time.

At the beginning of last week, the data appeared that oil demand in China fell by three million barrels per day, or 20% of total consumption. Bloomberg notes that this is the largest decline in global demand after the 2008-2009 crisis and the most sudden after the recession caused by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in the United States. Currently, China is the largest importer of oil, it consumes about 14 million barrels per day, which is equal to the total needs of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Britain, Japan and South Korea.

According to the agency, the price of Brent crude oil has fallen by more than 10% since January 20, when markets began to respond to this crisis. On the eve, the supply of petroleum products to China from Latin America was stopped, and supplies from West Africa were also reduced. The volume of oil refining at Chinese refineries may also decrease by 15-20% in the near future, agency sources said. In particular, the largest Chinese oil corporation Sinopec has already reduced refining by 13-15% and plans further reductions.

Against this background, the investment bank Citigroup Inc. reduced the forecasts for raw materials prices, from oil to ore. This is due to the potential effects of the coronavirus epidemic on the economy. The forecast for oil prices in the first three quarters of 2020 has been reduced. According to experts, even toughening restrictions on the oil production of the OPEC + group will not lead to a normalization of the situation. Forecast by Citigroup Inc. for Brent prices in the first quarter of the year was reduced from $ 69 per barrel to $ 54 per barrel.

The forecast reduction in the second and third quarters of the year is due to the assumption that the consequences of the epidemic will be much more serious than previously expected. It is believed that the price of the world oil benchmark could fall to $ 47 per barrel. This is the lowest price level in two and a half years.

Due to the epidemic, oil giant Saudi Aramco lost more than $ 200 billion in capitalization. On Thursday, the quotes of the Saudi state-owned company Saudi Aramco fell to 33.5 riyals ($ 8.93) apiece, which was the minimum since the start of the circulation of SA securities on the stock exchange in December 2019. When Saudi Aramco just launched the placement of shares, their price reached $ 10, 3 apiece, the company’s capitalization was approaching $ 2 trillion (this was precisely the price point for the Saudi authorities). Given the drop in quotations, the company's capitalization fell to $ 1.78 trillion.

At the end of the week, the French oil company Total announced its refusal to accept the notification from one of the Chinese LNG importers about the occurrence of force majeure due to coronavirus. Thus, Total became the first supplier to publicly repulse a Chinese company trying to abandon its contractual obligations due to the economic consequences of the coronavirus epidemic. Trading sources report concerns that Chinese importers or even exporters might try to use the force majeure situation to break free of long-term contractual obligations. Companies have the right to announce a force majeure situation if they are not able to fully fulfill their contractual obligations due to force majeure circumstances that are not dependent on the will of the company itself.
Oil and gas supplies to China have already declined significantly. The trend may continue.

 

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