With Olga Yagova, Jane Chung and Ron Bousso
MOSCOW / SEOUL / LONDON (Reuters) – The collection of the best oil traders in the world, London International Petroleum Week, will be so crowded this year as most traders in Asia plan to cut their 24-27 February travel plans or canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The virus, which came from China late last year, claimed more than 1,100 lives and spread it to other countries. Japan has the second highest number of cases, which share China’s best energy importer rankings.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the epidemic is a global threat such as terrorism.
IP Week, the main annual meeting of the oil industry, is also famous for its topical night parties when companies and traders met cement business dealings during the day.
The South Korean reformers GS Caltex and SK Innovation, owner of SK Energy refiner, told Reuters that they do not go to IP Week this year during a virus outbreak.
“GS Caltex is not attending the IP week after a Chinese virus outbreak,” said his spokesman. SK’s Innovation officer said that his company will rely on the London-based team, as the Singapore office decided to cancel the event this time.
It was suggested that the Chinese team of Petrochina, Tokyo’s Mitsubishi offices, Mitsui and Inpex along with Singapore offices of the European warden, Eni and Total, would miss IP Week this year, and sources were familiar with the plans with Reuters.
“We had a number of meetings in London with Asian counterparties canceled,” said a trader who worked on an Asian market and based in Europe. He also said that his managers were thinking of avoiding the unexpected event this year.
China JPMorgan was asked not to attend IP Week events too, source told Reuters. According to two other sources in Asian companies, the main concern is that Asian travelers could be quarantined when they arrive, destroying their business plans.
Mitsubishi’s official said his oil team would attend IP Week as planned.
A Mitsui spokesman said that most of the London-based teams would participate in the case, refusing further commentary. An Inpex spokesman said the team intended to attend, but that he was “spending concern on the outbreak of COVID-19 … closely monitoring the affairs.”
(Reporting by Olga Yagova in MOSCOW, Jane Chung in SEOUL, Ron Bousso in London, Aaron Sheldrick in TOKYO, Additional reporting by Felix Bate in PARIS; Writing Olga Yagova; Editing by Katya Golubkova and David Evans)