Apr 22, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The uncertain global attempt to save oil

Ben Geman, author of Generate

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

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,919,364— Total deaths: 364,459 — Total recoveries — 2,490,221Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 1,745,606 — Total deaths: 102,798 — Total recoveries: 406,446 — Total tested: 16,099,515Map.
  3. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March —How the U.S. might distribute a vaccine.
  4. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  5. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.
  6. 1 sports thing: NCAA outlines plan to get athletes back to campus.

Zuckerberg says Trump’s “shooting” tweet didn’t violate Facebook’s rules

Mark Zuckerberg at the 56th Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany on February 15. Photo: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Facebook did not remove President Trump's threat to send the National Guard to Minneapolis because the company's policy on inciting violence allows discussion on state use of force, CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained in a post on Friday.

The big picture: Zuckerberg's statement comes on the heels of leaked internal criticism from Facebook employees over how the company handled Trump's posts about the Minneapolis protests and his unsubstantiated claims on mail-in ballots — both of which Twitter has now taken action on.

Trump says he spoke with George Floyd's family

President Trump in the Rose Garden on May 29. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters on Friday that he had spoken with the family of George Floyd, a black resident of Minneapolis who died after a police officer knelt on his neck on Monday.

Driving the news: Former Vice President Joe Biden said via livestream a few hours earlier that he, too, had spoken with Floyd's family. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee implored white Americans to consider systemic injustices against African Americans more broadly, Axios' Alexi McCammond reports.