CERAWeek energy forum cancelled over coronavirus concerns

The event attracts thousands of delegates including top energy executives and policymakers

FILE - This June 27, 2017, file photo shows an oil rig at sunset in Midland, Texas. President Donald Trump relentlessly congratulates himself for the healthy state of the U.S. economy, with its steady growth, low unemployment, busier factories and confident consumers. But in the year since Trump’s inauguration, most economists tend to agree on this: The economy has essentially been the same sturdy one that he inherited from Barack Obama. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP, File)
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CERAWeek, one of the world's largest energy forums held every year in Texas, has been cancelled, due to concerns over the rapid spread of the coronavirus and confirmed cases in the US. Other industry events in the Middle East, notably in Bahrain, were also scrapped due to the rising number of cases in the region.

CERAWeek, organised by consultancy IHS Markit was scheduled to run from March 9 to 13 in Houston.

Organisers cited the World Health Organisation's new threat level for the virus as well as an increasing number of cases in the US. The US has confirmed cases in New York and the west coast of the country with two deaths. The city of Houston, where the event has been held for 35 years, has no reported cases of the Covid-19 virus.

The event attracts thousands of delegates including senior executives from the energy, technology, finance industries as well as policymakers from across the world.

"The focus of concern was the number of delegates coming to Houston from more than 80 other countries at this particular time of uncertainty," IHS said in a joint statement with the Mayor of Houston.

"For the same reason, IHS Markit has also cancelled two other international conferences this month scheduled for New Orleans and Long Beach, California," the statement read.

The Covid-19 virus has already infected 88 people in the US. The US is already in the grip of a season flu outbreak, which has claimed between 18,000 and 46,000 lives over the last five months, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The novel coronavirus, which originated in China has spread rapidly since mid-January to 60 countries, with global death toll topping 3,000 with more than 89,000 cases reported.

The epidemic prompted the cancellation or postponement of large gatherings across various industries around the world as organisers try to stem the virus from spreading further. The virus has disrupted global trade, supply chains, the travel industry and a sell off across stock markets globally.

CERAWeek and IHS Markit said next year's event is scheduled for March 1-5.

Bahrain, which confirmed six new cases, bringing the overall number of infected to 47 cancelled two energy industry conferences.

The Middle East Petroleum and Gas Conference, organised by the London-based consultancy Facts Global Energy was cancelled. The organisers said the conference originally scheduled for March 30 and 31 will be held in the second half of the year.

Another energy event, GEO 2020 scheduled from March 16 to 19 has now been postponed until September 14-17.

The coronavirus cases in Bahrain have been traced back to passengers arriving from visits to Iran.