Welcome back. Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,289 words, 5 minutes.
Situational awareness: As I noted yesterday, here's a good list of organizations helping restaurant workers facing economic jeopardy from the COVID-19 crisis.
🎵Yesterday marked the birthday of the late Aretha Franklin, who opens today's newsletter with this beautiful song...
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
The White House faces a difficult but not impossible task as it seeks to convince Saudi Arabia not to unleash a flood of oil into the already oversaturated market.
Why it matters: The COVID-19 pandemic is crushing global oil demand. The economic hit to the oil industry — already underway in the U.S. — will be even tougher to emerge from if the Saudis proceed to boost supply to over 12 million barrels per day next month.
Driving the news: Trump officials are boosting diplomatic efforts around supply management following the collapse of the Saudi-Russia output limiting deal, which steepened ongoing price declines.
What they're saying: Look at how the State Department wrote its summary of Secretary Mike Pompeo's call this week with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
What we're watching: President Trump will take part in a G20 videoconference this morning on COVID-19 response, so we'll be watching for signs of whether oil policy came up.
The big question: Will U.S. efforts sway the Saudi's posture in their price war with Russia?
The intrigue: Krane notes that while Trump officials are appealing to their sense of responsibility that comes with the role, the administration is an imperfect messenger.
But, but, but: There's still an opening. Oil analyst Ellen Wald says the Trump administration has some leverage in its effort to push for restraint.
Go deeper: U.S. pressures Saudi Arabia to give up oil price war with Russia (S&P Global Platts)
Regardless of whether the Saudis alter their plans, the global oil market is seeing an astonishing buildup of supplies with nowhere to go amid the unprecedented demand collapse.
What they're saying: Analysts' research notes have become dramatic reads in these tragic times, with the latest entries coming via new Goldman Sachs and IHS Markit notes.
Threat level: "[W]e believe that any potential agreement between the US/Saudi and Russia to freeze or reduce output is too little too late as it would take months to impact inventories globally and would be dwarfed by the current demand losses," Goldman analysts say.
The bottom line: Production in some locations will simply have to be halted. IHS sees the supply-demand imbalance creating a surplus in the first half of this year of 1.8 billion barrels, which exceeds their estimate of available storage capacity.
A new report from the Dallas Fed offers a sobering look at how much the oil price collapse and falling demand are going to batter the U.S. industry.
Driving the news: Their survey of oil companies showed that many need oil prices far higher than today's low prices to profitably drill new wells.
Why it matters: Shale producers — both majors and independents — are planning to sharply pare back spending. Steep job losses loom in the drilling services industry.
What's next: The chart above helps explain why U.S. production is slated to begin falling, though it'll take a while.
The coronavirus is set to alter global natural gas markets that are already in the midst of transformation, per a new Center for Strategic and International Studies analysis.
What's next: Via CSIS's Nikos Tsafos, trends to watch are...
Litigation: "A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a full environmental review of the Dakota Access pipeline, nearly three years after it began carrying oil despite protests by people who gathered in North Dakota for more than a year." (AP)
Coronavirus: "Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday that the company’s factory in Buffalo, New York will open 'as soon as humanly possible' to produce ventilators that are in short supply due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic." (TechCrunch)
Electric vehicles: "Fears that electric cars could actually increase carbon emissions are a damaging myth, new research shows." (BBC)