Apr 22, 2020 - Energy & Environment

How the White House could try to help U.S. oil-and-gas producers

US oil prices crashed into negative territory last few weeks,for the first time in history

U.S. oil prices crashed into negative territory for the first time in history. Photo: Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images

There are various ideas kicking around, in addition to previously floated proposals — which Congress has yet to approve — to buy 77 million barrels of oil for the SPR.

The big picture: Steps that don't require new Capitol Hill actions could be key for the White House. Edward Moya, an analyst with the firm OANDA, warned in a note that President Trump "will see strong resistance from Congress in giving out any funds to oil and gas companies."

Driving the news: "The Trump administration is considering offering federal stimulus funds to embattled oil-and-gas producers in exchange for government ownership stakes in the companies or their crude reserves," the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • The research firm ClearView Energy Partners said in a note: "Treasury could guarantee loans to distressed firms in return for equity stakes or senior debt, and Washington could use its voting shares to compel shut-ins (i.e., as part of a bargain with OPEC+)."
  • Mnuchin said recently that oil companies can seek to use new lending programs the Federal Reserve is setting up, and Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told Bloomberg yesterday that the administration is working to ensure that access.

Other ideas: There have also been reports in Bloomberg and elsewhere that administration officials have weighed plans to pay companies not to produce. It would involve buying large amounts of oil to be part of the nation's emergency stockpile — but without extracting it first.

  • Meanwhile, the American Exploration & Production Council, an industry group, yesterday urged administration officials to pressure China to make good in pledges to significantly boost purchases of U.S. energy as part of the recent trade agreement.

Go deeper: Yes, oil prices are negative. No, you won't get paid to fill up your car

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