NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices soared on Thursday after U.S. President Donald Trump said he expects Russia and Saudi Arabia to announce a major oil production cut, and Saudi state media said the kingdom was calling an emergency meeting of oil producers to deal with the market turmoil.
Trump said he had spoken to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and expects Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut oil output by about 10 million barrels, as the two countries signaled willingness to make a deal.
That set off a swift rally in oil markets, with Brent futures jumping $6.28, or 25%, to $31.02 a barrel by 11:02 a.m. EDT (1502 GMT), while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose $5.65, or 28%, to $25.96.
Earlier in the session, Brent soared as much as 47%, its highest gain ever. WTI, meanwhile, jumped as much as 35%, which was it second highest ever following an intraday gain of 36% on March 19.
Oil markets have been under pressure ever since early March, when Saudi Arabia and Russia were unable to come to terms on a deal to curb production, and the Saudis responded by boosting output to more than 12 million bpd and shipping out cargoes worldwide at discounted prices. Since then, the worsening of the coronavirus pandemic has severely cut fuel demand, pushing U.S. crude as low as about $20 per barrel.
With fuel demand expected to fall by 20% to 30% in the coming months, pressure was building on the oil producers to come to a deal, and Trump expressed growing frustration about the price of oil and its effect on the energy industry. He is meeting with major energy chief executives at the White House on Friday.
A cut of 10 million to 15 million barrels would be unprecedented, and would likely need the participation of numerous countries outside of OPEC and its allies. Texas regulators are exploring the possibility of cutting production in that state, which produces more than 5 million barrels per day.
Additional reporting by Julia Payne in London, Shu Zhang in Singapore and Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Marguerita Choy