LONDON, Feb 18 (Reuters) - The list of cocktail parties during London’s International Petroleum Week has shrunk even further as hosts like ExxonMobil and Azerbaijan’s SOCAR continue to cancel events due to the coronavirus, trading sources said.
IP Week is a key oil traders’ gathering that takes place every year in February. This year, it is scheduled for Feb. 24-27. Oil majors, national oil companies and trading firms host receptions throughout the week.
Spooked by the epidemic, several oil companies based in Asia said last week that they would skip IP Week this year. Oil major BP then cancelled all events along with storage company Vopak and inspection company Bureau Veritas.
The move has now prompted others to follow suit as the number of attendees plunges. ExxonMobil, SOCAR, Royal Dutch Shell and PetroChina joint venture PetroIneos are the latest to cancel their receptions this week.
SOCAR’s event typically draws a crowd of over 1,000 people.
Shell hosts several receptions, and so far, only its fuel oil event has been cancelled, traders specified.
“IP WEEK reception scheduled for February 25th at the SAVOY is cancelled due to recent developments concerning the spread of the coronavirus,” SOCAR said in a note to attendees.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Exxon said one part of its business had cancelled IP Week-related activities, without providing further detail. A spokesman for Shell did not immediately comment.
China reported its fewest new coronavirus infections since January on Tuesday and its lowest daily death toll for a week, but the World Health Organization said data suggesting the epidemic had slowed should still be viewed with caution.
Among others, Spain’s Repsol has decided not to send a delegation, traders said. Repsol did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The avalanche is rolling down the hill,” one source said, referring the lengthening list of cancelled meetings and parties. (Reporting By Julia Payne, Ahmad Ghaddar and Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Jan Harvey)