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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.

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sat down with CNN on Thursday for their first joint interview since the election.

The big picture: In the hour-long segment, the twosome laid out plans for responding to the pandemic, jump-starting the economy and managing the transition of power, among other priorities.

The quick FCC fix that would get more students online

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the pandemic forces students out of school, broadband deployment programs aren't going to move fast enough to help families in immediate need of better internet access. But Democrats at the Federal Communications Commission say the incoming Biden administration could put a dent in that digital divide with one fast policy change.

State of play: An existing FCC program known as E-rate provides up to $4 billion for broadband at schools, but Republican FCC chairman Ajit Pai has resisted modifying the program during the pandemic to provide help connecting students at home.