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by Stockwatch Business Reporter
West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery had a grim start to the week, breaking below $20 in intraday trading before closing at $20.09 (down $1.42) on the New York Merc (all figures in this para U.S.). Brent for May lost $2.17 to $22.76. Western Canadian Select traded at a discount of $15.50 to WTI, up from a discount of $16.25. Natural gas for April added six cents to $1.69. The TSX energy index added 5.54 points to close at 52.06.
A refinery in Newfoundland has become the first major refinery in North America to shut down on COVID-19 fears. North Atlantic Refining announced late Sunday that it is temporarily halting operations at its 130,000-barrel-a-day Come by Chance plant, out of concern for worker safety. The shutdown is expected to last two to five months. It comes as refineries worldwide are curtailing operations in the face of plunging fuel demand, as the global pandemic forces planes to idle and motorists to stay home as much as possible. The Norwegian research centre Rystad Energy forecast last Thursday that global fuel demand will decrease by as much as 16 per cent in April, 2020, compared with a year earlier. That is actually one of the more optimistic forecasts; some have put the drop as high as 30 per cent. In virus-ravaged Italy, national fuel demand has collapsed 85 per cent, according to a statement from a local refinery that became the first to shut its doors last Friday.
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