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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Policymakers worldwide are eyeing new moves to shore up collapsing oil markets and, in the U.S., help distressed companies — but there is probably no safety net big enough.

Driving the news: President Trump yesterday said he told the Treasury and Energy Departments to come up with a financial aid plan for the oil sector.

  • Saudi Arabia said it's "prepared to take further measures jointly with OPEC+ and other producers," while some OPEC+ ministers held a videoconference yesterday but did not announce any new steps.
  • Australia today announced a US$60 million plan to take advantage of low prices to buy oil for strategic stockpiles, some of which will be held in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
  • International Energy Agency boss Fatih Birol called for three steps, including faster and deeper cuts from countries that have committed to throttle back production.

But, but, but: The measures, most of them inchoate for now, are unlikely to be enough to substantially reverse the trajectory of oil markets responding to the collapse in demand from the coronavirus pandemic.

  • The global benchmark Brent crude is still trading at around $20 per barrel this morning, up a little after tumbling to $16 earlier in the day.
  • But it's still down from nearly $70 in early January, a roughly 70% drop, and the collapse in U.S. prices has been even steeper (more on that below).
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big question: What precise form the Trump administration efforts will take, and whether there's a deal to be made with Democrats for potential steps that would require Capitol Hill action.

  • "We look forward to both looking at both existing capabilities we have, and that will be something we may need to go back to Congress and get additional funding for," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters at a White House briefing last night.

Go deeper: A world locked down and drowning in oil

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 30, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Oil giants Shell and Total report profits despite staggering earnings declines

Photo: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Shell and Total SA announced mammoth earnings declines Thursday that reflect the pandemic's toll on energy prices and demand, but the companies nonetheless beat expectations and eked out profits.

Driving the news: Shell announced second-quarter adjusted net earnings of $638 million, an 82% decline from the same period last year.

Updated 10 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 13 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.