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Data: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas; Chart: Axios Visuals

2021 can't be worse for oil companies than 2020, but wow is that a low bar, and a new survey shows that executives see a mixed picture ahead.

Driving the news: U.S. prices hit their highest levels since February early today before receding.

  • But, zooming out to global production, Reuters reports most "OPEC+ countries would like to postpone a planned increase in oil output from February due to weakening fuel demand amid new global lockdowns to stop the spread of the coronavirus, three OPEC+ sources said on Monday."

The big picture: A Dallas Fed survey of companies in the heart of the U.S. oil patch finds that activity "jumped" in the year's final quarter. The poll of companies in the district, which includes the prolific Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, also finds...

  • Employment continued to decline in Q4, though layoffs "abated somewhat."
  • Half the nearly 150 companies (a mix of producers and oilfield service contractors) plan to keep their belts tight after 2020's cutbacks.

Why it matters: The surveys provide a window onto how many companies see the near- to medium-term future after COVID-19 caused a historic collapse in demand and prices.

What's next: 2020 saw a wave of consolidation and bankruptcies, and not everyone thinks they'll be left standing at the end of 2022. The survey asked executives how many of the country's 60 publicly listed independent producers they think will remain by then...

  • 47% think that between 37 and 48 will be left standing.
  • 24% think it'll be between 25 and 26, while another quarter think more than 49 will survive.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jan 19, 2021 - World

Europeans have high hopes for Joe Biden

Data: Pew Research Center; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Joe Biden's inauguration will be greeted with enthusiasm in Europe, with three new polls making clear that most Europeans can't wait to bid Donald Trump adieu.

The big picture: Europeans generally expect brighter days ahead under Biden, according to the polls, but his election has not fully assuaged doubts about U.S. democracy and global leadership.

56 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.