The collapse of West Texas Intermediate oil price below zero may repeat as Saudi Arabia and Russia may restart a new round of price war in the oil markets, Russian experts warn.
The WTI, also known as Texas light sweet, is a grade of crude oil used as a benchmark in oil pricing.
For the first time in history, the cost of May futures for the WTI crude dropped to minus $37.6 per barrel, causing panic in the market.
Russian experts predict a new collapse in the WTI oil price below zero, noting that the chances are low. However, they are not ruling out the possibility.
Experts said the collapse was partially triggered by a drop in oil demand and a lack of storage facilities, so a repeat is possible in the current market situation.
"That situation was related to financial instruments, not to filling the storage facilities, because even the oil that was purchased at a negative price is now stored somewhere. WTI and Brent trading is primarily paper trading, so the possibility of a negative price remains, although the risks are much smaller," Andrey Polishchuk, an analyst at Raiffeisen Bank, said.
Vasily Tanurkov, head of Analytical Credit Rating Agency's corporate rating group, believes that storage capacity was not the only factor that led to the negative price.
In many ways, the situation was affected by investors who, at that moment, dominated the stock market.
Timur Bayanov, senior personal broker for international markets, BCS Broker, also believes oil prices may again turn negative for various reasons.
The global market players are monitoring the amount of oil storage available, he said.
"However, there are other events that are unexpected but important, and can hastily lower the oil prices," said Bayanov, pointing out that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a global derivatives marketplace, had recently raised requirements for forward and June oil contracts.
Despite all these factors, the chances of a repeat of the situation with a negative price for the WTI crude oil are insignificant, as players and exchanges will try to prevent it, experts say.
"The chances are still there (of a negative price for the WTI), but they are small. The negative experience affected players and hedgers, and most of them had the opportunity to protect themselves from repetition and shift in advance to longer contracts if they did not expect to deal with deliveries in June," Alexei Kalachev, an analyst at Finam Holdings, a financial services company, said.
Experts said the oil market could be shaken due to a new round of price war.
Now, the oil price seems to be rising because of some kind of pause in this war, they said.
Alexander Gryaznov, department director of S&P Global Ratings in Russia, said the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia on the global oil market may start again when the price returns to the level of $50-55 a barrel.
Oil prices plummeted in March after Russia and Saudi Arabia failed to negotiate oil production cuts. The former allies intended to ramp up production in April. Observers called it "the price war".
However, OPEC+, a group of oil producing nations made up of 14 OPEC members and 10 other non-OPEC members, managed to finalize the deal on oil production cuts in May-June at their extraordinary meeting on April 12.
According to S&P Global Ratings estimates, Brent oil prices will be at the level of $30 per barrel until the end of 2020 with a subsequent recovery to $50 per barrel in 2021.
Experts believe prices will be at $55 per barrel in 2022 and beyond that.
"The current pause in the price war is disadvantageous to both players, Saudi Arabia and Russia, to continue the price war. However, when the price returns to $50-55, I would not exclude that the struggle for markets will continue," Gryaznov said.