Russia has just sparked what may end up being among the ugliest oil price wars in recent history. And Saudi Arabia is firing back. As the two oil superpowers face-off, American oil companies may end up as the biggest victims.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Sunday that present oil prices were sustainable for the Russian economy. Adding that Russia had the tools to react to any adverse results of the spread of the coronavirus on the global financial climate.
"I want to stress that for the Russian budget, for our economy, the current oil prices level is acceptable," Putin explained in a meeting with Russian energy officials.
Now some oil analysts are anticipating barrel prices as low as $20 within the year. Some experts have suggested that Russia's move is intended to counter U.S. shale producers and hit back against the U.S. for targeting the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline connecting Russia and Germany.
Saudi Arabia blasted back, in kind. Sunday morning, Saudi Arabia dropped its own oil weapon. Its latest plans will not only reduce its unrefined price to Chinese consumers by as much as $6 or $7 per barrel, but it is also reportedly looking to increase its daily unrefined output by as much of as 2 million barrels per day into an increasingly oversupplied international market.
The shocking move by the Saudis is both a market share grab as well as a loud signal to Moscow that it is finished playing games.
Within seconds of the market opening on Sunday night, oil prices plummeted as much as 30 percent, driving crude to its lowest level in four years. The Brent crude benchmark fell from $45 a barrel to $36.44 at the time of writing, while WTI plummeted from $40.45 to $32.97, in one of the single worst drops in recent history.
By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com
Mar 08, 2020, 5:00 PM CDT