US crude oil prices dipped below $ 20 a barrel shortly after trading reopened on Sunday, close to the lowest level in the past 18 years as traders bet production will have to close to cope with the collapse of pandemic demand of coronavirus.
The US benchmark, known as West Texas Intermediate or WTI, hit a low of $ 19.92 a barrel, losing more than 6%.
Brent, the international benchmark, lost 6%, hitting a low of $ 23.03 a barrel, the lowest since 2002.
Oil prices have fallen by more than half in the past month due to large blockages in Europe and North America that have drastically reduced demand for oil, with analysts predicting that a quarter of normal global consumption could be lost.
With supplies rising at the same time since the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, traders believe that the surplus could approach 25 million barrels a day next month, a level that could overwhelm storage capacity worldwide in few weeks.
Prices are expected to remain under pressure until the market adjusts, with producers likely to shut down production on a scale never seen before in the modern oil industry.
Earlier this month, the WTI traded below $ 20 a barrel for a short period, with the April contract expiring, which plunged violently into thin trade. But this is the first time that WTI has traded less than $ 20 a barrel since 2002 under normal trading conditions.