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Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

ExxonMobil and other big energy companies will likely be cool to President Trump's idea of working with the U.S. to produce oil in Syria, analysts say.

Driving the news: Trump reiterated the idea and name-checked Exxon during remarks this morning on the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by U.S. forces.

  • "[W]hat I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly," Trump said at the White House.
  • He raised the same idea at a Cabinet meeting last week. Exxon declined to comment on Sunday.

The big picture: The U.S., despite the pullback from Syria, is reportedly deploying troops to a northeastern region to prevent oilfields from falling into ISIS' hands.

But, but, but: Oil majors are unlikely to take interest in the idea, analysts tell Axios.

"I doubt there will be a rush by oil companies to work in a region that is a hotspot for military action and civil unrest," said Michael Webber, an energy scholar with the University of Texas at Austin.

  • "International oil and gas companies aren’t looking for risky places to operate, they are looking for safer places to operate — which is one reason why west Texas has been enjoying a boom in production," he said in an email exchange.

Where it stands: Syria, even at its peak, was not among the world's big oil producers.

  • Production peaked at roughly 600,000 barrels per day in the mid-1990s, but has long been in decline and plummeted when a civil war broke out nearly a decade ago. It's now just a tiny fraction of those levels and would require substantial investment to revive.
  • And there would be legal barriers too. “Oil, like it or not, is owned by the Syrian state,” Brett McGurk, former U.S. envoy to the multilateral anti-ISIS coalition, said last week, per the Wall Street Journal.

One level deeper: Webber, deputy director of UT-Austin's Energy Institute, criticized the Trump administration's maneuvers.

  • "[T]he announcement that oil was a motivator for our troops’ movements affirms critics’ worst conclusions that U.S. foreign policy and defense strategy are about oil and no longer about defending human rights or promoting democracy abroad," he said.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
5 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania. 

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