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The Changing Winners and Losers From Oil’s Historic Plunge

  • Impact on governments of oil at $30 a barrel hard to predict
  • Past oil shocks not necessarily a good guide to fallout today
Oil workers pass a pumping unit at a drilling site operated by near Almetyevsk, Russia.

Oil workers pass a pumping unit at a drilling site operated by near Almetyevsk, Russia.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Oil price shocks always divide the world’s economies into winners and losers, sometimes producing lasting geopolitical change -- and this time is unlikely to be different. But to misquote Tolstoy, every oil crisis distributes happiness and unhappiness in its own way.

Crude’s biggest drop in three decades on Monday coincided with the spreading coronavirus, slow growth in China, a wave of de-globalization affecting trade, and the emergence of the U.S. as the world’s largest oil producer. Even for some consumer nations, gains from lower oil prices may this time be overwhelmed by the collapse in demand caused by Covid-19.