2. What do ‘negative prices’ mean?
In short: oil producers are paying buyers to take the barrels of oil off their hands because storage facilities are full to the brim. At the market’s lowest point on Monday, an oil company might have paid about $40 for every barrel of oil someone was willing to take. A buyer would need to factor in the cost of transporting oil from the well to a shipping port, or a storage facility, where it may need to be held for up to six months, at significant cost. They would also need to bet that oil prices will rise later this year to make a return on the “investment”. No oil company wants to “sell” their crude at a loss, so many producers are likely to shut their wells until the market recovers.
It’s the futures price, for May delivery, which has gone negative. Not the spot or physical price.