Due to the coronavirus pandemic, oil prices fell more than 20% in 2020, despite a rebound in prices at the end of the year. This was because Covid-19 undermined consumption around the world. On Thursday at 11:50 GMT, Brent, the European benchmark, traded at $ 51.26, 22% less than on December 31, 2019.
As reported by AFP , this is the worst drop in oil since 2015, despite the fact that in 2018 crude prices had already fallen 19.8%. At the beginning of the year, investors were concerned about geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, which threatened to disrupt production and skyrocket prices.
Following the death in Baghdad of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a US strike and the retaliatory Iranian missile fire, the Brent had soared to $ 71.75. But, little by little, the Covid-19 epidemic in China turned into a pandemic. The hitherto gradual fall in prices accelerated on March 6, when a conflict began in OPEC +, which brings together the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries ( OPEC ) and its allies, including Russia.
The two heavyweights of the alliance, Russia and Saudi Arabia, second and third world producers respectively, fought a brief but intense price war that led to a nosedive in prices. On April 20, for the first time in its history, the WTI, the US benchmark, went negative.
The US benchmark fell to -40.32 dollars, and investors were reduced to paying to dispose of their barrels, stalled by the absence of buyers and the inability to receive and store them. Meanwhile, Brent reached its lowest level of the year two days later, at $ 15.98 a barrel, a price that had not been seen in more than twenty years.
Since then, prices have recovered, even though they have not returned to their pre-pandemic level. Since the beginning of November, successive announcements about covid-19 vaccines have pushed investors to buy oil, confident of a recovery in demand in the future.