How can oil sell for a negative value? Local expert weighs in on COVID-19’s impact on the industry


Paul Lyden has been in the oil-selling business for more than 40 years, but he admits that this is a first

(WYTV) – There may have been some confusion on Monday after reports of oil being traded at a negative value. How is that even possible?

Paul Lyden has been in the oil-selling business for more than 40 years, but he admits that this is a first.

“I’ve never seen oil traded with a negative value,” Lyden said.

Stock markets around the world responded by falling steeply, and Lyden said the price drop is due to an overcapacity of fuel.

Lyden said while prices at the pump may hover above a dollar a gallon now, the lack of demand is hurting refineries, which he said need to keep operating at a high level. He compared it to drinking from a glass with a straw.

“You only get the product when you, you know, pull it through the straw. You don’t get anything when there’s gaps in the middle,” Lyden said.

Lyden said while he sees a glimmer of hope in construction projects starting to grow, other sectors of the economy are at a standstill. He said his key barometer on the economy can be seen at local truck stops.

“And I see, you know, open parking lots, open parking spaces. I don’t see trucks at the fuel islands and then I sit there and I look. I’m like, ‘Wow, here it is,”‘ Lyden said.

Lyden wants to see the government do more to get the economy moving again, which will mean not only an increased demand for fuel but to create a ripple effect boosting other sectors as well.

“That domino effect is very, very, very long. It’s a very, very large board game with the economy and when the dominoes fall, they fall quick.”

Lyden worries that the current situation can’t go on much longer without causing devastating consequences.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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