Financial markets attempted to buoy benchmark prices as oil and gas markets became volatile in Q1 2020. This created a disconnect in the price spreads between the NYMEX WTI futures benchmark and regional spot prices. The disconnect continued to grow at the beginning of the year until it reached a tipping point in April when prices plunged. Ultimately supply and demand at the regional level through purchasers like storage companies, airlines, and refineries will be what control the true value of crude prices and bring the market back into equilibrium.
The dual black swan events of 2020 have thrown supply and demand far out of equilibrium but with China purchasing crude again and various parts of the United States starting to open back up, global oil demand is beginning to return. As the world begins to recover to pre-pandemic levels, market forces will support the shift back towards equilibrium just like the shift we are currently seeing in China.