REUTERS

Oil prices fell on Monday, depressed by concerns U.S. storage facilities will soon be full as the novel coronavirus pandemic destroys demand and as companies prepare to report their worst quarterly earnings since the 2008 financial crisis.

Brent LCOc1 was down 73 cents, or 2.6%, to $27.35 a barrel at 0814 GMT, Reuters said.

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The front-month May WTI contract CLc1 fell $3.53, or 19.3%, to $14.74 a barrel.

At one point, it dropped by 21% to $14.47 a barrel, the lowest since March 1999, but the U.S. sell-off was exaggerated by the imminent expiry of the front-month contract.

"The May contract is set to expire tomorrow, and the bulk of the open interest and volume is already in the June contract," ING's head of commodities strategy Warren Patterson said.

The June contract CLc2, which is more actively traded, fell $1.45, or 5.8%, to $23.58 a barrel.

The volume of oil held in U.S. storage, especially at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) contract, is rising as refiners throttle back activity because of weak demand.

"As production continues relatively unscathed, storages are filling up by the day. The world is using less and less oil and producers now feel how this translates in prices," Rystad's head of oil markets Bjornar Tonhaugen said.

Floating storage in tankers is also estimated at a record 160 million barrels.