Oil export price for Mexico's Pemex goes negative for first time

General view shows Mexican state oil firm Pemex's Cadereyta refinery, in Cadereyta, on the outskirts of Monterrey, Mexico April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s oil export basket closed on Monday in negative territory for the first time ever, according to data published by state oil company Pemex, meaning the firm would have to pay buyers to offload its crude.

The average price for the company’s crude exports slid to a historic low of -$2.37 per barrel, down 116% since its closing price last Friday.

Spot prices for Mexican crude exports tanked as the price for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for delivery in Houston, to which Pemex’s flagship Maya heavy crude is tied, fell deeper into negative numbers earlier in the day.

WTI for Houston delivery hit a high of WTI plus $27.50 per barrel on Monday, which is about negative $9.50 per barrel. The crude grade had a low of WTI plus $5.50 per barrel during the day.

Traders desperate to avoid owning oil fled the markets on Monday, sending crude futures into negative territory for the first time ever, in recognition that the coronavirus pandemic has sapped demand for fuel and there is not enough storage for the massive glut of oil in the United States.

Investors sold the May futures contract due to expire on Tuesday in a series of waves, finally closing on Monday at negative $37.63 per barrel, a wipe-out of some 305%, or $55.90 a barrel.

Prices clawed their way back into positive territory in early Asian trading.

Pemex’s export mix closed last Friday at $14.35 per barrel.

Reporting by Adriana Barrera and David Alire Garcia; Editing by Sandra Maler and Richard Pullin