Skip to content
Business
The Big Take

Oil’s Spectacular Covid Crash Set the World Up for $100 Crude

The energy industry cut back during the pandemic, paving the way for a runaway rally that has huge implications for the global economy.

On April 20, 2020, West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, dropped to minus $40 a barrel. Oil industry leaders were forced into drastic choices that would affect the industry’s growth and its appeal to investors for years to come. 

On April 20, 2020, West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, dropped to minus $40 a barrel. Oil industry leaders were forced into drastic choices that would affect the industry’s growth and its appeal to investors for years to come. 

Photographer: Justin Merriman/Bloomberg

The two-year Covid crisis put many markets on a wild ride—just look at U.S. Treasuries—but few have had a crazier time than crude oil: from total collapse in 2020 to the brink of $100 a barrel today.

It’s not only the price swings that have shocked motorists, investors, CEOs and OPEC+ ministers alike. An entire industry has gone from being written off as a wounded dinosaur and shunned by investors to getting pressure from the U.S. President to step up and save the economic recovery.