Mar 17, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The fallout from oil's collapse

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

ExxonMobil, citing an "unprecedented environment," said last night that it plans to "significantly" cut spending in light of the coronavirus and the collapse in oil prices.

Why it matters: The oil giant's announcement is the latest sign of how deeply the upended market is affecting the sector.

"It was a stunning reversal for the largest U.S. oil producer, which two weeks ago pledged to 'lean in' to the market drop and maintain outlays in a belief oil demand would rise in the long run."
Via Reuters' Gary McWilliams

What's new: Goldman Sachs analysts now estimate that global oil consumption has fallen by 8 million barrels a day, and they see Brent crude falling to $20 a barrel next quarter, per Bloomberg.

Catch up fast: The oil market has been upended by two huge forces: the deep cuts in travel and the economic fallout from COVID-19 that's cratering oil demand, and the collapse of OPEC-Russia production-limiting deal.

Where it stands: Exxon is among many oil companies large and small announcing major cutbacks.

  • Just yesterday the large U.S. independent producer Pioneer Natural Resources said it's reducing its planned 2020 capital spending by 45%.
  • And a top BP official yesterday said the company could lower its spending by 20%.

What they're saying: In a joint statement, OPEC and the International Energy Agency said they reviewed the effects of the pandemic and price collapse on "vulnerable developing countries."

What they found: "[I]f current market conditions continue, their income from oil and gas will fall by 50% to 85% in 2020, reaching the lowest levels in more than two decades, according to recent IEA analysis." (Emphasis added)

  • "This is likely to have major social and economic consequences, notably for public sector spending in vital areas such as health care and education."

Go deeper: The hurdles facing Trump's planned strategic oil purchase

Go deeper

Oil plunges and industry pain spreads

Photo: Carsten Rehder/picture alliance via Getty Images

This morning is bringing fresh and stark signs of how economic contraction from COVID-19 is crushing the oil market and forcing companies to cut back.

The big picture: The price collapse stems from COVID-19 freezing a significant amount of travel and economic activity, and the collapse of the Saudi-Russia agreement to limit production.

Trump to buy oil for nation’s strategic reserves

President Trump. Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor

President Trump will direct the Energy Department to buy oil for the nation’s strategic stockpile to boost prices and help the oil industry reeling after the market’s historic collapse this week.

The big picture: America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve was created in the 1970s to ensure the U.S. has oil in case of an emergency. Today, Trump is buying oil for the reserve because of an emergency.

The chaotic thaw in oil price wars

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Friday morning brought the news that the OPEC+ group will meet remotely Monday to discuss potentially steep production curbs, sending prices upwards on the prospect of easing the global glut as coronavirus crushes demand.

Why it matters: The meeting, reported by multiple outlets, is the second concrete sign in two days of new coordinated efforts since the OPEC+ supply management alliance — led by megaproducers Saudi Arabia and Russia — collapsed a month ago.