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Coronavirus Impact on Energy Markets

by Dan Petersen


As the world tunes in to the news every day to monitor the outbreak of the coronavirus, Atlas has been closely monitoring the impact on our clients and on the energy markets.

We have been proactively communicating with all our retail electric and natural gas suppliers to request that any late charges or additional fees presented to customers during this state of emergency be forgiven.

The energy market has reacted negatively across all major commodities since the outbreak of the virus. Oil has been severely impacted from a demand perspective. The IEA is forecasting oil demand will drop by 2.5 million barrels per day in the first quarter of 2020. This decrease is currently projected to extend through the first half of the year with “normal” conditions hopefully returning by July. The downtrend of oil demand could result in the first year-over-year demand reduction we have seen in the last ten years. Current oil pricing is extremely depressed with Brent crude trading at $29.36/bbl, a level that has only been seen twice since 2004.

The natural gas market has reacted in a similar fashion as reductions in demand are being realized due to the outbreak of coronavirus. Just last week the EIA reported demand was down approximately 10 Bcf per day compared to the week prior and the same time last year. One of the largest impacts the US is experiencing is the lack of LNG exports, which accounts for approximately 10% of the country’s gas demand. The global economy is slowing to a crawl and the demand for LNG is following suit. Prompt month natural gas contracts are trading at $1.775/MMBtu, a level we have only hit only one other time in the last 15 years.

As you can imagine, electric demand has also decreased considering many large consumers of energy are now working remotely and shutting down production facilities.  Over the last week, US electricity demand has fallen 859 GWh or 1%. Market analysts predict total electric demand will fall by up to 3% at the end of Q2 2020. As far as pricing goes for electricity, the bottom has not been discovered yet for many major trading hubs. The glut of natural gas growing each day is further depressing electricity pricing out the curve. Atlas expects this trend to continue for the next 30-60 days.

Please reach out to Atlas Retail Energy with any questions on how your business can better navigate this turbulent time.

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