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Opinion

China's shutdown puts OPEC and allies nations in awkward position

They want to prop up price despite coronavirus-related drop in Asian demand

| China
Zhoushan crude oil import terminal, pictured in August 2018: no one anticipated a sudden demand shock caused by a new pathogen spreading like wildfire.   © TPG/Getty Images

The coronavirus epidemic battering economic activity and oil demand in China has sent oil prices into a tailspin. It has also placed producers of the OPEC/non-OPEC alliance in a quandary that puts their core ideology -- maintaining the price of crude oil so that it works for both producers and consumers -- to the test.

Major oil-producing countries and companies have been gradually adjusting to the reality of declining global demand in the mid- to long term. The cooling of China's red-hot economy over the past decade, latterly accelerated by its trade war with the U.S., and expectations of oil being displaced by environment-friendly energy and mobility alternatives have all pointed in that direction.

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