CNN reports that the spread of the coronavirus has greatly reduced demand for oil, "as schools and offices close, airlines cancel flights worldwide and a growing number of people hunker down at home."
"This is a sudden, instant demand shock — and the scale of the decline is unprecedented," said Jim Burkhard, vice president and head of oil markets at IHS Markit.
The warning comes ahead of a critical meeting Thursday for OPEC members and allied producers in Vienna. The cartel, is under pressure to announce yet another round of coordinated production cuts, its preferred method of propping up prices.
Coronavirus fears have already driven oil into a bear market, with Brent crude futures, the global benchmark, trading at $52.65 per barrel, more than 23% below their recent peak in early January. US oil is trading at $48.22, nearly 24% below recent highs.