$38.50 per barrel.
That's how much you get PAID at the NYMEX for agreeing to take a 1,000-barrel contract off their hands. The problem is (and the reason it's so cheap) what are you going to do with 1,000 barrels of oil and $38,500? The barrrels are 42-gallon drums and weigh 300 pounds each and you have to pick them up in Cushing, OK no later than the end of the next month and picking up means from a pipeline – you have to bring your own barrrels.
You can buy the barrels for about $20 each but they are 3 foot tall by 2 foot in diameter (12 cubic feet) and a standard semi truck has about 2,400 cubic feet of spaces so, if you were to fill up 1,000 barrels you'd need 5 semi trucks to take them to your storage facility and you'd have to pay 5 teams to load them and unload them and then pay for storage until you find a seller.
Still if you are doing the math, you might be able to make all that work for under $38,500 but then you still need to find someone who will buy the oil from you for less than zero and, while -$38.50 did not last long – oil is still trading at -$4 this morning. Those are the contracts that expire today for May delivery as there is simply nowhere left to put the oil.
Not only are the storage facilities full but the pipelines are full so you can't even transport the stuff and the oil tankers are being used for storage and good luck finding a tanker truck or tanker car on a train. Go to your local gas station and he'll tell you he's full too – those tanks hold 12,000-24,000 gallons and that's just 250-500 barrels at a gas station but that is, of course, refined gasoline – you would be buying unrefined crude so your only potential buyer is a refinery and, guess what – they're FULL!!!