Oil prices also plunged further yesterday, with a benchmark Brent crude dropping nearly 11% to about $30 a barrel.
North Sea operators should be prepared for worse to come, with the industry globally now facing the prospect of production shutdowns, according to some market experts.
Bjoernar Tonhaugen, head of oil markets at Rystad Energy, said: “We believe, unfortunately for oil producers but to the benefit of the global economy, that we have not seen the bottom.
“The potential loss of demand in March-April may dwarf anything the world has ever seen, just when Opec+ producers (Opec plus 10 non-Opec members) open the floodgates of new supply to the market.”
Rystad senior oil analyst Paola Rodriguez-Masiu added: “As the Covid-19 proves more resilient than anticipated, and Saudi Arabia and Russia continue to be engaged in a market-share war, we find that the oil price could fall even into the $20 territory to trigger production shutdowns.
“The level of global stock-building we see is not sustainable.”
Market intelligence giant IHS Markit warned a “dizzying” drop in demand and “dramatic pivot” in Saudi production policy may, if they continue, create “the most extreme global oil supply surplus ever recorded”.