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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Joe Biden certainly isn't who the oil industry wants to win the presidential election — as their political spending shows — but he might be the leader the ailing sector needs.

Why it matters: Biden is vowing new emissions regulations and new restrictions on production as part of plans to hasten a transition away from fossil fuels — but what that means for the industry and markets isn't cut and dry, some analysts argue.

What they're saying: Let's start with a new column by Bloomberg's Liam Denning ("Why Big Oil Should Vote for Joe Biden.")

  • He says GOP opposition to action on climate does nothing to help the industry navigate the lower-carbon world — and political transition — that's coming one way or the other.
  • "The industry faces a choice between getting on board with a smoother transition, with more emphasis on market-based solutions, or keeping with Republicans’ maximalist, but minority, position until political fortunes inevitably change — at which point mandates like California’s gasoline-car ban will drop like bricks," he writes.
  • "The first option entails risk management; the second is a gamble with lengthening odds."

The intrigue: Denning points out that if Biden wins and Democrats regain the Senate, a Green New Deal-style revolution isn't in the offing.

  • But the sector should expect climate measures "more along the lines of an actual transition rather than abrupt disruption."

Where it stands: There are also reasons to think Biden could support oil prices in the nearer-term by effectively imposing a more disciplined production outlook, a Goldman Sachs note this week said.

  • "We do not expect the upcoming U.S. elections to derail our bullish forecasts for oil and gas prices, with a Blue Wave likely to be in fact a positive catalyst," the note says.

Reality check: They're not saying Biden would be a lasting friend at all. They see him creating "headwinds" to production and imposing climate policies that are ultimately negative to demand.

  • But in the near term, his infrastructure and stimulus plans would lead to higher demand in the coming years than currently expected, they write.

What they're saying: Goldman's not alone in this nearer-term assessment.

  • Rystad Energy's Artem Abramov, speaking recently to S&P Global Platts, argued that Biden’s nonenergy policies, like easing U.S.-China trade tensions and taking more effective steps to control COVID-19, would have bullish spillover effects for oil.
  • And back to Bloomberg's Denning: "[A]dult management of the Covid-19 crisis and a large economic stimulus, along with tighter restrictions on fracking on federal land and methane emissions, could support oil and gas prices from both the demand and supply side, at least in the short term."

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
Jan 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden-Harris, Day 1: What mattered most

President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrive at the North Portico of the White House. Photo: Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images

The Axios experts help you sort significance from symbolism. Here are the six Day 1 actions by President Biden that matter most.

Driving the news: Today, on his first full day, Biden translates his promise of a stronger federal response to the pandemic into action — starting with 10 executive orders and other directives, Caitlin Owens writes.

Trump says he plans to launch new social media network in 2022

Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump on Wednesday announced plans to launch a social media network called "Truth Social," and that it would go public via a SPAC.

Why it matters: Most ex-presidents are focused on their legacies, by creating presidential libraries or engaging in philanthropic endeavors. Trump, however, remains consumed by social media.

Beauty giant Coty Cosmetics looking to sell its own branded products

Coty Cosmetics CEO Sue Nabi. Photo: Axios on HBO

Coty Cosmetics CEO Sue Nabi tells Axios the beauty giant will “probably” introduce Coty-branded products one day.

Why it matters: Coty produces some of the world’s most popular fragrances, skin care products and color cosmetics on behalf of other well-known brands, but has shied away from producing its own branded products.