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The Real Reason Oil Prices Crashed –



The Real Reason Oil Prices Crashed |

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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    Here’s a quick question: what happens when a lot of people are producing more and more of a commodity, but fewer people want to buy it? It’s economics for preschoolers. You don’t even need multiple choice answers to guess right.  But here’s another, increased difficulty, question: whose fault is the current oil price crash?

    If this were a multiple-choice question, the answers would look something like this: a. Saudi Arabia; b. Russia; c. The United States; d. The coronavirus outbreak; and e. All of the above. The correct answer, of course, is e., if we get past our personal preferences for a culprit. But how much did each of these contribute to the crisis? 

    Now that’s a harder question to answer. 

    Saudi Arabia used to be the world’s largest oil producer and, more importantly, the world’s cheapest oil producer. This has given the Kingdom a lot of leverage when it comes to controlling oil prices. Prices went where Saudi Arabia wanted, either by shutting off the taps or turning them up to gushing. 

    It was the latter that the Kingdom did in 2014 when the U.S. began to make its oil presence felt internationally. The point was to stifle this emerging competition and retain the top spot both in production and clout. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite as planned. Prices tanked from over $120 a barrel to below $30 and everyone suffered, including Saudi Arabia itself.

    Now, the Kingdom has once again turned the taps on to gushing. This time it wants to punish its partner in price control, Russia, for its refusal to cut a bigger chunk of its production to support prices, although some believe it has also had enough of U.S. shale and is targeting it, too. 

    Prices, not known for being surprising, are reacting in the only way that can be expected.

    So, Saudi Arabia fired the first shot in what everyone is now calling an oil price war. But did it really? Saudi Arabia announced its plans to raise oil supply to 12.3 million bpd from less than 10 million bpd on the Sunday after the OPEC+ meeting in Vienna did not take place because Russia singularly refused to cut deeper. But that was not all Russia, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said.

    Related: Gasoline Futures Fall To $0.50 As Demand Plummets
    Novak also said on that fateful Friday that Russia would restore its pre-agreement production rates beginning in April. This would add some 300,000 bpd to current production rates or up to 500,000 bpd. While it’s true that 300,000-500,000 bpd is nowhere near the almost 3 million bpd that Saudi Arabia has threatened to add to the oversupplied market, Russia’s refusal to cooperate on the cuts was widely seen as the move that triggered Saudi Arabia’s response. What’s more, some believe the real Russia’s real target was U.S. shale.

    U.S. oil, and U.S. shale oil, in particular, has been blamed—or praised, depending on the perspective—for the change in the balance of oil power in the world over the last couple of years. U.S. shale is now a force to be reckoned with, boasting daily production of over 13 million bpd per the latest EIA weekly petroleum report.

    This has turned the United States into the world’s largest producer of crude oil and has significantly increased its previously non-existent presence on international oil markets. While local production has not made the U.S. self-sufficient in oil, it has certainly reduced its dependence on imports and turned it into an exporter, competing directly with Saudi Arabia’s and Russia’s lighter grades.

    Just how much U.S. shale changed the balance of oil power globally became evident gradually, as OPEC and Russia kept cutting production and prices kept refusing to rise because of sluggish demand outlooks but also because U.S. shale producers continued to pump more and more oil. While OPEC+ was cutting, shale boomers were boosting. 

    This was bound to end badly.

    Now, Saudi Arabia is pumping and shale boomers are retrenching, slashing spending and idling rigs. Debt repayments are looming and while many have hedged against low prices, how long the money will last is an open question, as shale producers, too, have been burning cash for months if not years. And it’s not like they weren’t warned. Continental’s Harold Hamm said in 2017, when prices rebounded, that U.S. shale should be careful not to drill itself into the ground. But here is history repeating itself. Only this time it’s worse because the world is gripped by a deadly pandemic.

    Related: US Oil Turns Its Back On The Permian As Prices Crash

    The viral outbreak that began in China in December had, by the time of writing, claimed almost 14,700 lives globally, infecting 339,000 people across dozens of countries, and effectively shutting down many of them. States of emergency have been declared, remote work and remote schooling is the new—hopefully temporary—normal and airlines are gasping for air. This is probably the worst oil demand shock the industry has seen in history.

    Just how severe the effect of the pandemic has been on prices is easily seen in the oil price forecast revisions of investment banks. They started with $50 a barrel early this year when the virus began its march across China before it spilled out, and now some are predicting Brent could drop as low as $10 a barrel if the current situation continues. The world will simply run out of storage.

    According to calculations by OilX, there are about 750 million barrels of oil in the world stored both on land and offshore. The oil analytics firm notes that this could rise to 1 billion barrels, according to some analysts, in the current demand and supply situation. 

    It’s anyone’s choice who is most at fault. The facts remain: unless something changes quickly—and it won’t be the world’s epidemiological situation—oil is headed lower. On the plus side, this would help the economies hardest hit by Covid-19 to recover a little bit more easily.

    By Irina Slav for

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      Oil Prices Crash Towards $20 Despite Historic Cuts –



      Oil Prices Crash Towards $20 Despite Historic Cuts |

      Josh Owens

      Josh Owens is the Content Director at An International Relations and Politics graduate from the University of Edinburgh, Josh specialized in Middle East and…

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        Oil Prices Crash

        Investor Alert: As oil prices crash towards $20 on the back of an insufficient production cut agreement, all eyes will be on G20 developments and more production cut news over the weekend. If you haven’t already signed up for Global Energy Alert then make sure you do so today to get expert analysis on what will happen on Monday when markets reopen.

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        Friday, April 10th, 2020

        OPEC+ agreed to the largest oil production cuts in history on Thursday, but oil prices crashed towards $20 as markets decided that a 10 million bpd cut was insufficient to balance the demand deficit. Today, the G20 will meet to discuss more cuts and more details will likely come out about the OPEC+ deal. Markets are closed today and so all eyes will be on developments over the weekend.

        OPEC+ strike 10 mb/d deal, oil prices fall. OPEC+ agreed to joint cuts on the order of 10 mb/d, a historic agreement. The deal calls for both Saudi Arabia and Russia capping production at 8.5 mb/d for May and June, after which cuts would ease in phases – down to 8 mb/d and then to 6 mb/d of cuts. The deal was not received well by the markets, which sold off WTI and Brent over fears that the reductions are inadequate. “The supply and demand fundamentals are horrifying,” said OPEC Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo. 

        PremiumOil Market Data Is About To Get Very Ugly

        G20 meets to chip in. OPEC+ is also looking for help from other non-OPEC countries in the G20. Mexico temporarily held up the OPEC+ deal because it does not want to cut. At the time of this writing, Mexico’s president said that he spoke with President Trump, who promised to contribute to the cuts on Mexico’s behalf. “First they asked us for 400,000, then 350,000,” Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador said. Mexico was only able to cut by 100,000 barrels a day, and Trump “very generously expressed to me that they were going to help us with an additional 250,000 to what they are going to contribute. I thank him.”

        Demand loss at 20-30 mb/d. The OPEC+ deal is historically large, but still insufficient to plug a 20 to 30 mb/d decline in demand. Inventories are set to rise in the coming months. “The proposed 10 million bpd cut by OPEC+ for May and June will keep the world from physically testing the limits of storage capacity and save prices from falling into a deep abyss, but it will still not restore the desired market balance,” Rystad Energy said.

        Analysts say cuts are too little, too late. Other analysts also said the risk is to the downside. “These cuts are not enough to prevent massive stockbuilds in May, let alone April,” JBC Energy wrote in a note. Oil prices could fall back despite the cuts. 

        Bearish EIA data. The weekly EIA data was negative – crude inventories jumped by 15.2 million barrels, gasoline stocks rose by 10.5 million barrels, and gasoline demand fell by another 1.6 mb/d. 

        Enbridge: 20-25% of Canadian oil to be shut in. Enbridge’s (NYSE: ENB) CEO Al Monaco said that 20-25 percent of Western Canada’s oil production could be shut in because of low prices. Roughly 135,000 bpd has already been shut in. RBC predicts declines of 1.1 to 1.7 mb/d. 

        Flood of Saudi oil heading to U.S. Saudi Arabia is sending “a flood” of oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast, according to Bloomberg, with an estimated 14 million barrels en route, compared to just 2 million barrels a month ago. 

        IMF: Global economy hit worst since 1930s. The IMF said that just about all countries could see falling living standards this year, the first time that has occurred since the 1930s. “Today we are confronted with a crisis like no other,” the head of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, said.

        Nearly 17 million newly unemployed. Nearly 17 million people filed for unemployment insurance in the U.S. in the last three weeks. “In its first month alone, the coronavirus crisis is poised to exceed any comparison to the Great Recession,” Glassdoor Senior Economist Daniel Zhao told Politico.

        Premium: What Will $15 Oil Mean For Producers?

        Banks to seize shale assets. Big U.S. lenders to shale drillers could seize energy assets in order to avoid losses from forthcoming bankruptcies, according to Reuters. JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup are setting up companies to own oil and gas assets. The shale industry owes more than $200 billion in debt. “Banks can now believably wield the threat that they will foreclose on the company and its properties if they don’t pay their loan back,” Buddy Clark, a restructuring partner at law firm Haynes and Boone, told Reuters. 

        ExxonMobil to lower methane emissions. ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) said it would lower methane emissions at 1,000 of its Permian sites using drones, satellites and planes.

        Franklin Resources preparing for Chesapeake default. Mutual-fund company Franklin Resources is taking steps to prepare for a potential bankruptcy by Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK), according to the Wall Street Journal. Franklin Resources owns a significant portion of Chesapeake’s $9 billion in debt. 

        Occidental tells workers to write Congress for money. Occidental Petroleum’s (NYSE: OXY) CEO Vicki Hollub told her employees to send pre-written letters to Congress asking the government “to provide liquidity to the energy industry,” according to Bloomberg

        Coronavirus could kill fracking “fever dream.” The U.S. shale industry has never demonstrated profitability and has been built on a decade of cheap capital. “The dream was always an illusion,” Bethany McLean writes in the New York Times. “All that’s left to tally is the damage.”

        Concho Resources shutting down Permian output. Concho Resources (NYSE: CXO) said that it is already curtailing production in the Permian. “Concho, as well as other operators in the Permian Basin, have begun shutting in uneconomic production in rapid response to the recent market shift,” the company said in a letter to the Texas Railroad Commission.

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          Canada currently has 21243 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than 383000 tested; Ontario sees another 524 COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths in the last 24 hours; 5.08 million people receiving the CE – Toronto Star



          The latest novel coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Friday (this file will be updated throughout the day). Web links to longer stories if available:

          1:53 p.m.: The total number of deaths worldwide due to the Coronavirus has surpassed 100,000, according to John Hopkins University.

          The number 100,376 deaths was reported on their worldwide tracking map.

          1:45 p.m.: The RCMP announced new powers aimed at enforcing the Quarantine Act, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted Friday that rules could be loosened this summer if Canadians act now to contain the spread of COVID-19.

          The police force says it has been asked to assist in enforcing the act in the midst of the pandemic. Officers could visit homes to ensure anyone entering Canada is self-isolating for 14 days, and police can now make arrests, rather than issue a court appearance notice or summons.

          The RCMP says arrests under the act, violations of which could include a fine of up to $750,000 and imprisonment for six months, will be a last resort.

          Trudeau said Friday he is not planning to invoke the Emergencies Act, which would give the federal government sweeping powers.

          1:25 p.m.: The Quebec government says 25 more people have died from COVID-19, bringing the number of deaths to 241.

          There province is reporting 765 new cases.

          Premier Francois Legault says he’s cautiously optimistic that despite reporting 11,677 confirmed cases and 733 people hospitalized, the numbers are beginning to stabilize. The cases in intensive care actually went down today to 186.

          Legault says provincial health authorities are confident that physical distancing measures imposed by the province are working.

          The premier repeated today that in the coming weeks, the province will begin to resume some activities and a gradual restart to the economy.

          Legault’s main message to Quebecers is that better days are ahead.

          1:14 p.m.: Premier Doug Ford held his daily press conference as usual Friday with health minister Christine Elliott and Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health. “We’re laser-focused on ramping up our testing capacity so we can protect the most vulnerable in our communities and those who protect them, like our front-line health care workers and first responders,” said Premier Ford. “By expanding our testing capacity, we will be able to find cases faster, intervene earlier, reduce the spread, and save lives.”

          The provincial government anticipates that they’ll be able to double the number of tests processed each day to 8,000 by April 15, 2020 and 14,000 by April 29, 2020. At this point, overall lab capacity will have been further expanded, says the government.

          12:24 p.m.: Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, addressed the nation Friday afternoon from Ottawa.

          Tam says that Canada currently has 21,243 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and that more than 383,000 tests have been administered across the country. Included in that case count is 531 deaths, many of them at long-term care homes, Tam said.

          Tam praised Canadians for adhering to the public health guidelines laid out by the government, saying that the public’s cooperation has “kept our health system from being overwhelmed.”

          “We’ve achieved a great deal together over the past few weeks,” Tam said.

          Tam also endorsed a “staycation for the nation,” urging Canadians to spend this holiday weekend at home.

          12:18: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be at the House of Commons on Saturday as the government attempts to pass the wage subsidy bill. He has been working from home since March 12.

          Trudeau calls the wage subsidy bill the largest economic measures Canada has seen since the Second World War.

          The bill will allow companies to get a 75-per-cent subsidy on each employee’s wages.

          Meanwhile, Trudeau is not planning to invoke the emergencies act, which would give the federal government sweeping powers.

          11:45 a.m.: City of Vaughan mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua has requested all flags at the city’s facilities be lowered to half-mast to honour the victims of COVID-19. He also paid tribute to healthcare workers.

          “I want to recognize all workers playing an important role in maintaining essential services. Thank you for your hard work, dedication and commitment to ensuring the well-being of our community.”

          As the Easter long weekend begins, along with the desire to connect with family, he reiterated the pleas of other community leaders to maintain physical distancing and social isolation protocols.

          11:00 a.m.: Ontario has seen another 524 COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the Star’s latest count.

          With most of the province’s 34 regional health units still to report their daily tally as of 11 a.m. Friday, the Star is counting 6,768 confirmed and probable cases of the disease, including 244 deaths.

          Peel Public Health reported a steep increase in deaths Friday morning, to a total of 15, from 10. A cleaner at Brampton Civic Hospital died Thursday in what is believed to be Ontario’s first death of a health-care worker from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

          New deaths were also reported near Sarnia and in Waterloo Region.

          Earlier Friday, the province reported a jump in the number of patients who had been tested for COVID-19 the day prior. The province reported 5,573 were completed, up about 1,500 from the Thursday report, and approaching levels from the start of the month. Earlier this week, Premier Doug Ford called low testing rates “absolutely unacceptable” given the province has the built up the capacity to complete around 13,000 tests a day.

          According to the province, 673 patients are now hospitalized with COVID-19, including 260 in an intensive care unit. The province also says 2,574 patients have now recovered after testing positive for COVID-19

          The province says its data is accurate to 4 p.m. the previous day. The province also cautions its latest count of deaths — 222 — may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in its reporting system.

          The Star’s count is based on the public tallies and statements of the regional health units. It includes some patients reported as “probable” COVID-19 cases, meaning they have symptoms and contacts or travel history that indicate they very likely have the disease, but have not yet received a positive lab test.

          10:41 a.m.: The federal Health and Human Services department says it’s releasing the first $30 billion in grants provided by the stimulus bill to help keep the U.S. health care system operating during the coronavirus outbreak.

          Congress provided $100 billion for the health care system in the $2 trillion stimulus bill.

          Officials say the relief funds will go to hospitals and doctors through Medicare and will be based on their billings to the program last year. Hospitals are supposed to use some of the money to cover COVID-19 treatment for the uninsured, although an independent study earlier this week suggests it may not be enough.

          10:00 a.m.: Figures from the federal government this morning show that 5.08 million people are receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

          The figure includes about two million workers who previously qualified for employment insurance benefits after March 15, but were moved to the new benefit when it became available on Monday.

          So far this week, 3.08 million people have filed claims for the benefit, including just over 615,000 claims alone on Thursday.

          The $2,000-a-month benefit is available for up to 16 weeks for eligible workers affected by COVID-19.

          9:58 a.m.: Thousands of people surged for food aid in a brief stampede Friday in Kenya’s capital, desperate for help as coronavirus restrictions keep them from making a living. Police fired tear gas and injured several people, witnesses said.

          Residents of Nairobi’s Kibera slum, spotting a food distribution, tried to force their way through a gate outside a district office for their chance at supplies to keep their families fed for another day. In the chaos, men with sticks beat people back as they fought over packages of food, some with face masks dangling off their chins. Some people fell and were trampled. Dust rose. Women shrieked. Injured people were carried to safety and placed on the ground to recover, gasping for breath.

          “The people who have been injured here are very many, even we cannot count,” said one resident, Evelyn Kemunto. “Both women and children have been injured. There was a woman with twins, she has been injured, and even now she is looking for her twins. … It is food we were coming for since we are dying of hunger.”

          The crowd had heard that popular opposition leader Raila Odinga had donated the food, said witness Richard Agutu Kongo, a 43-year-old who operates a motorcycle taxi. But in fact the distribution was from another well-wisher who had given selected families cards to turn in and receive aid, he said.

          “They didn’t care about government restrictions that we were to stay 1 metre apart,” he added.

          Kongo’s family, including six children, was given a card. They received two packets of maize meal, cooking oil and cereals. People in the crowd “could see those with cards getting food and this caused the stampede as they tried to force their way in,” Kongo said.

          He described his business as a standstill as Kenyans are discouraged from going out.

          “Before, I used to make (the equivalent of) $10 and now with the coronavirus restrictions I can barely make $5,” he said. “It’s becoming hard to ensure my family gets three meals a day. Yesterday they missed breakfast.”

          With Friday’s donation, his family now has enough for three meals, he said: “We are thankful for the donation, but it will only last two days.”

          He lamented that Kenya’s government appears to have no plan to feed him and millions more.

          8:27 a.m.: In Israel, the number of coronavirus infections has risen to more than 10,000. The government imposed strict measures to contain the pandemic early on but has seen it tear through the insular ultra-Orthodox religious community.

          The Health Ministry on Friday reported more than 10,000 cases, including 92 deaths.

          In Oman on Friday, authorities ordered those living in the capital, Muscat, to remain there while banning people from travelling into the city over the virus. The country has more than 450 confirmed cases with two confirmed deaths.

          There are more than 134,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Middle East, including over 5,300 fatalities. Some 4,200 of those deaths are in Iran, which has the largest outbreak in the region. Authorities there had recorded over 68,000 total cases as of Friday.

          8:21 a.m.: The top U.S. infectious disease official says coronavirus antibody tests are just days away.

          Dr. Anthony Fauci says at the last White House coronavirus task force meeting, the people responsible for developing, validating and disseminating the tests were saying “a rather large number of tests” will be available within a week.

          Fauci told CNN on Friday he’s “certain that that’s going to happen.”

          An antibody test could show whether a person was recently exposed to the coronavirus. Fauci says the test would say “that you were infected and if you’re feeling well you very likely recovered.”

          Fauci says medical experts could then try to determine how deeply the virus “has penetrated the society” and whether previously infected people would be vulnerable to reinfection, which is particularly “important for health care workers.”

          Fauci says testing for an antibody doesn’t mean medical experts are shifting away from testing for the virus to see who’s infected. He says, “those things are done in parallel.”

          8:08 a.m.: Yemen’s internationally recognized government Friday announced the first confirmed case of coronavirus in the war-torn country, a 73-year-old Yemeni national who works at the al-Shahr port in Hadramawt province. He is in a stable condition. The case stokes fears that an outbreak could devastate an already crippled health care system.

          Yemen is a uniquely dangerous place for the coronavirus to spread. Repeated bombings and ground fighting over five years of war have destroyed or closed more than half its health facilities. Deep poverty, dire water shortages and a lack of adequate sanitation have made the country a breeding ground for disease.

          The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels declared a cease-fire on Thursday on humanitarian grounds to prevent the spread of the pandemic. However, fighting continued unabated Friday, diminishing hopes that a halt in the fighting will open doors for peace talks.

          To try to curb the spread of the virus, provincial Gov. Farag al-Bouhsni announced on his Facebook page a partial curfew. He also placed all workers at one of the area’s key ports, Al-Shahr, under a 14-day quarantine.

          7:46 a.m.: France’s only aircraft carrier has confirmed 50 cases of the virus aboard and is heading back to port.

          The French military says three of those aboard the Charles de Gaulle with the virus have been flown to a French hospital for treatment. Medics are staying aboard to track the infections and prevent further spread among the 1,700 crew after 50 of the 66 tests were positive.

          7:30 a.m.: Pakistan is reopening some factories amid a national lockdown to counter the deadly coronavirus pandemic as the south Asian nation expects its exports will decline by 50% in the next two months, Bloomberg reports.

          The companies with export orders will start working again with precautionary measures including calling in only essential employees and ensuring regular disinfection, Abdul Razak Dawood, the commerce adviser said in a phone call, late Thursday. Exporters such as Interloop Ltd., which supplies to Nike Inc. and Puma SE, have reopened their factories.

          7:29 a.m. (updated): Still damaged and scarred by fire, Notre Dame Cathedral came back to life — if only for a fleeting instant — as a centre for prayer on Friday in a Paris locked down against the coronavirus.

          Just days before the first anniversary of the April 15, 2019, inferno that ravaged the beloved Paris landmark, the French capital’s archbishop led Good Friday celebrations unlike any that have gone before inside the centuries-old jewel of Gothic architecture.

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          Archbishop Michel Aupetit and three clergymen who accompanied him wore hard hats as they entered the damaged cathedral that is closed to the public and which he described as “half collapsed.” They then took off the helmets for the ceremony, in front of a large cross and the gaping hole in the cathedral’s roof.

          Venerating a crown of thorns that survived the flames, the bishop said the 40 minutes of prayer, music and readings under the blackened remains of the vaulted stone ceiling showed that “life is still here” amid the coronavirus pandemic “spreading death and paralyzing us.”

          “A year ago this cathedral in which we find ourselves was burning, causing shock and momentum worldwide to rebuild it,” he intoned.

          “Yes, Lord, come to show us that you are not abandoning us.”

          The fire brought down the cathedral’s spire and melted its lead roof, showering the wreckage and surrounds with toxic dust and horrifying Parisians and people across the world. Renovation work ground to a halt with the coronavirus lockdown in place nationwide in France since March 17.

          Dressed in white protective overalls for the ceremony, classical musician Renaud Capuçon played violin, the mournful notes echoing off the walls and pillars that have witnessed months of silence since the blaze.

          Dressed in the same protective gear, actors Judith Chemla and Philippe Torreton delivered readings. In a limpid voice, Chemla sang an “Ave Maria” that sent shivers down the spine.

          With the cathedral off-limits to the public and Paris in lockdown, the half-dozen people were the only participants in the proceedings, but they were broadcast live.

          7:01 a.m.: The union representing correctional officers in Ontario says some of its members have refused to work after they were not allowed to wear protective gear amid the spread of COVID-19 in provincial jails.

          Some institutions allow guards to wear surgical masks and gloves while others don’t, said Chris Jackel, a spokesman for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

          A spokeswoman for the Ministry of the Solicitor General said jails across the province have access to protective equipment, adding that the health of its workers and inmates is a “top priority.”

          “The ministry is currently working with bargaining partners to address outstanding matters, such as the use of personal masks,” said Kristy Denette.

          6:52 a.m.: As the coronavirus spreads in Japan, the chief executive of the Tokyo Games said Friday he can’t guarantee the postponed Olympics will be staged next year — even with a 16-month delay.

          “I don’t think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not,” Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said, speaking through an interpreter at a news conference conducted remotely. “We’re certainly are not in a position to give you a clear answer.”

          “We have made the decision to postpone the games by one year,” Muto added. “So this means that all we can do is work hard to prepare for the games. We sincerely hope that come next year mankind will manage to overcome the coronavirus crisis.”

          “Rather than think about alternatives plans, we should put in all of our effort,” he said when asked if there are alternative plans to 2021. “Mankind should bring together all of its technology and wisdom to work hard so they can development treatments, medicines and vaccines.”

          Muto was asked several times about the added costs of postponing, which has been estimated by Japanese media at between $2 billion-$6 billion. He said it was too soon to know the price tag and who would pay.

          5:37 a.m.: Turkey is sending a planeload of surgical masks, N95 masks and hazmat suits to Britain to help the country battle the coronavirus outbreak. State-run Anadolu Agency said a military cargo plane carrying the medical supplies took off from an air base near the capital Ankara on Friday.

          A second plane carrying more equipment would depart on Saturday, the agency reported. There was no information on the quantity of the supplies sent.

          In the past weeks, Turkey has similarly donated medical supplies to Italy, Spain as well as five countries in the Balkans.

          The items were sent in boxes displaying the words of 13th century Sufi Poet Jalaluddin Rumi: “There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness.”

          4:52 a.m.: Russian doctors will start treating all patients with pneumonia for the new coronavirus without waiting for test results to confirm the diagnosis, the country’s Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said.

          “We’re seeing that the disease progresses fast, and it has specific clinical presentation, (allowing) to diagnose (it) without confirming in the lab based on the clinical presentation,” Murashko said in a TV interview that aired on Thursday night.

          Murashko’s statement echoes earlier comments from Moscow doctors involved in treating coronavirus patients, saying that the vast majority of pneumonia cases in Russia are most likely caused by the new virus and should be treated as such.

          “Existing tests for confirming COVID-19 are 70-80% accurate,” Denis Protsenko, chief doctor of a top Moscow hospital treating coronavirus patients, said Thursday.

          4:33 a.m.: Boris Johnson’s father says the British prime minister needs time to recover from the new coronavirus and is unlikely to be back at work imminently.

          The U.K. leader spent three nights in the intensive care unit at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London after his COVID-19 symptoms worsened. He was moved back to a regular ward on Thursday evening, and his office says he is in “the early phase of his recovery.”

          His father Stanley Johnson said the prime minister needed to “rest up.”

          “He has to take time,” Stanley Johnson told the BBC. “I cannot believe you can walk away from this and get straight back to Downing Street and pick up the reins without a period of readjustment.”

          4:00 a.m.: While Canadian businesses wait for Parliament to approve a $73-billion wage subsidy program, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to highlight today another measure that will tide some companies over in the meantime.

          At his daily briefing on the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, Trudeau is expected to draw attention to the Canada Emergency Business Account. Under the program, the federal government is backing interest-free bank loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses and not-for-profit companies that have seen their revenues drop as the economy has deteriorated.

          Qualifying companies must be able to demonstrate that they paid between $50,000 and $1 million in total payroll last year. Canada’s banks and credit unions began offering the loans on Thursday. One-quarter of each loan will be forgivable if the remainder is paid off by the end of 2022.

          4:00 a.m.: Pharmaceutical giant Sanofi says it is donating 100 million doses of a malaria drug being tested for use as a treatment against the new coronavirus.

          In a statement Friday, the company said the hydroxychloroquine doses will be given to 50 countries. The company said it also is ramping up production, aiming to quadruple is capacity to manufacture the drug. Sanofi said it “will continue to donate the medicine to governments and hospital institutions if ongoing clinical studies demonstrate its efficacy and safety in COVID-19 patients.”

          But the company also cautioned that hydroxychloroquine has “several serious known side effects” and tests are so far inconclusive over its safety and efficacy in treating COVID-19.

          It said that “while hydroxychloroquine is generating a lot of hope for patients around the world, it should be remembered that there are no results from ongoing studies, and the results may be positive or negative.”

          4:00 a.m.: Pakistani police and rescue officials say at least one woman was trampled to death and 20 others were injured in a stampede as authorities distributed money among families affected by a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

          Pandemonium broke out Friday at a school in Multan, a city in eastern Punjab province, when hundreds of women gathered there to receive 12,000 rupees (about $70) promised by the government for each family. Pakistan plans to distribute financial assistance among 10.2 million low-income families across the country. The program began in Multan.

          1:51 a.m. (updated with OPEC statement): A proposed reduction in oil production by OPEC and other oil-producing countries involves a 10 million barrels per day cut until July, then an 8 million barrels per day cut through the end of the year, Saudi Arabia said Friday as the deal hung in the balance.

          OPEC said Friday that a proposed cut to oil production “is conditional on the consent of Mexico” after a marathon teleconference ended without a decision.

          Saudi state television alerted terms of the deal Friday, which also called for a 6 million barrel per day cut for 16 months beginning in 2021.

          1:02 a.m.: Plans to turn the Cathedral of St. John the Divine into a vast coronavirus field hospital were abruptly shelved Thursday, with public health officials saying that a leveling off in virus-related hospitalizations in New York City had made them reassess the need for the project.

          12:53 a.m.: The number of confirmed cases has reached nearly 1.6 million globally as of April 10, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News.

          12:08 a.m.: Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood will not be welcoming any guests until at least June, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to play out.

          “We are extending the closure of Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood through at least May 31,” the company said in a statement Thursday. “This includes our theme parks and Universal CityWalk at both destinations. The Universal Orlando Resort hotels have also temporarily suspended operations through this time period.”

          Guests who’ve already purchased tickets to visit the Florida or California parks during the closure will be able to use them through Dec. 18. (Customers should bring the old tickets to the front gate turnstile when they visit.)

          “If you cannot visit during this time, you can apply the value of a wholly unused ticket toward a new purchase,” Universal said in its FAQ. Guests who purchased tickets for dates after the park has reopened can still use them or put the money towards a new purchase. Annual and season passholders who have paid in full will have their passes extended by the number of days the theme park is closed.

          Thursday’s announcement marked the second time Universal has they’ve extended their coronavirus closures.

          12:08 a.m.: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended a “no sail order” Thursday that it imposed last month to help quell the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC order states that cruise ships can’t board passengers and return to their sailing schedules until one of three events takes place:

          -Expiration of the Department of Health and Human Services’ declaration that COVID-19 constitutes a public health emergency.

          -The CDC director’s own decision to modify or rescind its no-sail decision.

          -Passage of 100 days from the time the new order is published in the Federal Register.

          Until then, the about 100 cruise ships in the Atlantic, Pacific or Gulf of Mexico must remain idle, either in port or wallowing at anchor, the CDC said. Those ships currently have nearly 80,000 crew aboard.

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          Trump Strikes Deal With Mexico To Help Cut Oil Production In OPEC Deal –



          Trump Strikes Deal With Mexico To Help Cut Oil Production In OPEC+ Deal |

          Tsvetana Paraskova

          Tsvetana is a writer for with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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            The United States is ready to help Mexico reach its production cut quota as part of the tentative OPEC+ deal, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday, while the global pact to reduce production was in a kind of Mexican standoff early on Friday as Mexico was still balking at the large cuts it is asked to make.

            Lopez Obrador spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday and the United States agreed to cut 250,000 bpd for Mexico to help it reach the 400,000-bpd cut OPEC+ is asking of it, the Mexican president said at a news conference on Friday, noting that he had informed OPEC+ of this development.

            OPEC delegates told Bloomberg, however, that they were not aware of details of a Trump-Lopez Obrador agreement about the U.S. helping Mexico to achieve the cuts. 

            On Thursday, during the OPEC+ video meeting, Mexico – part of the non-OPEC group of producers in the pact since 2017 – disagreed with proposals that it should reduce its production by 400,000 bpd from its October 2018 baseline.  

            Mexico walked out of the OPEC+ talks yesterday, and its Energy Secretary Rocío Nahle tweeted later that Mexico offered to OPEC to cut its production by 100,000 bpd for the next two months, as part of its contribution to support oil prices. Mexico was offering to cut its oil production from 1.781 million bpd in March to 1.681 million bpd, Nahle said.

            Apparently, OPEC+ was not pleased with Mexico’s refusal to cut more and said in its official release about agreeing to 10 million bpd cuts that the deal “is conditional on the consent of Mexico.”

            Even if the U.S. would really help Mexico reach the 400,000 bpd cut, it’s not clear yet how OPEC+ would see the total U.S. contribution to the deal during the G20 energy ministers’ meeting, ongoing at the time of this writing.

            The U.S. has argued that its oil production decline is happening naturally as a result of the free market (and very low oil prices), but the heavyweights in the OPEC+ group, and most of all Russia, has signaled it would accept only voluntary production cuts as a contribution to the global deal.  

            By Tsvetana Paraskova for

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