Column Published in syndication March 11, 2020

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, slack has developed in demand for crude oil. Disruptions and quarantines have caused economic growth in China and elsewhere to slow. With the huge Chinese economy expanding less, slower growth has rippled out, and areas with significant outbreaks have experienced even greater negative effects. The result has been falling demand for oil and natural gas, and therefore downward pressure on prices. Early in the year, prices were in the $63 per barrel range; they had fallen to less than $42 by March 6.