Oil prices fell for a sixth day and were on track for the biggest weekly drop in four years towards $50 per barrel as the spread of the coronavirus outside China raised concerns about slowing global economies. Other hydrocarbon markets were affected by the oil plunge, including contracted liquefied natural gas which is linked, mostly in Asia, to the crude price.
The virus, which has killed more than 2,700 people in China, has been found in another 46 countries and caused 57 deaths.
There is concern among governments that the epidemic could turn into a pandemic and deliver a damaging blow to the global economy,
The North Sea Brent crude price was last at around $51.00, down over 12 percent on the week, the biggest weekly fall in four years.
The US benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude price was at $45.84 per barrel.
Analysts said that the oil market was hoping for steeper supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, including Russia, who have said they would take a responsible approach in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
OPEC is currently reducing output by about 1.2 million barrels per day to support prices and is scheduled to meet again in Vienna on March 5-6.
In the US natural gas market, outward LNG flows continue at a steady pace while spot prices fell across the nation.
A total of 19 LNG cargoes were shipped from US export plants in the past week compared with 14 the previous week.
Nine shipments left Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass plant in Louisiana, while four departed from Cheniere’s Corpus Christi facility in Texas.
At the four other plants, three were shipped from the Freeport plant in Texas, two departed from Sempra Energy’s Cameron facility in Louisiana, one left from Dominion Energy’s Cove Point in Maryland and none from the newest facility, the Elba Island plant in Georgia, according to the Energy Information Administration.
In the day-ahead natural gas market, prices fall across the Lower 48 states.
The benchmark Henry Hub spot price fell 10 cents in the week through February 27 to $1.92 per million British thermal units.
Northeast prices recorded the biggest falls. At the Algonquin Citygate, which serves the Boston area, the price plunged 67 cents to $2.11 per MMBtu.
At the Transcontinental Pipeline Zone 6 trading point for New York City, the price dropped 43 cents to $1.90 per MMBtu.
“Temperatures were generally close to normal across most of the country and warmer than normal in the Northeast and upper Midwest,” said the EIA.
At the Chicago Citygate, the price decreased 14 cents to $1.76 per MMBtu.
The price at Pacific Gas & Electric Citygate in Northern California fell 3 cents to $2.65 per MMBtu. At SoCal Citygate in Southern California the price decreased 19 cents to $2.20 per MMBtu.
In shale-gas regions, the Tennessee Zone 4 Marcellus spot price decreased 20 cents to $1.60 per MMBtu. The price at Dominion South in southwest Pennsylvania fell 14 cents to $1.65/MMBtu.