BP Plc said the coronavirus outbreak threatens to wipe out a third of global oil-demand growth this year, a troubling prediction for prices already languishing at their lowest in a year.
“We see demand down on average for the year by 300,000 to 500,000 barrels a day,” BP Chief Financial Officer Brian Gilvary said Tuesday in an interview in London. That takes a large chunk out of the 1.2 million-barrel-a-day growth expected before the deadly virus hit, sapping fuel consumption.
Brent crude slid below $55 a barrel on Monday to its lowest close since December 2018. The rout is piling pressure on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners, with leading producer Saudi Arabia pushing other members to take emergency action. Technical experts from the OPEC+ coalition meet in Vienna on Tuesday to evaluate the virus’s impact.
“All eyes then lead to OPEC as to whether OPEC will look to rebalance the market to get back in a $60 to $65 range,” Gilvary said.
The CFO was speaking after BP reported fourth-quarter results, with profit beating analyst estimates and the dividend rising.