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President Trump is calling on the Energy Department to find more places to store oil, in the wake of rock-bottom prices and an ensuing economic collapse of the sector itself.

Driving the news: Trump’s comments came Friday during the televised portion of a meeting he hosted with industry CEOs to discuss ways to help the sector. It’s reeling from a historic drop-off in demand with the world shutting down to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Where it stands: Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told Trump and oil-industry executives in the meeting that the department has offered capacity in the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve of up to 30 million barrels of oil for struggling companies to store product.

  • While Trump touted how cheap oil is right now, Brouillette revealed that companies may have to pay the government to store their oil.
  • These are called negative prices, when the seller pays the buyer to take the product.

Repeatedly referring to how affordable oil is right now, Trump called on Brouillette to find more places to store the oil, implying he had something specific in mind but didn’t elaborate.

  • “Check out other areas where you can store oil,” Trump said. “There are some very big ones, bigger than what we have now. At these prices, you should do it. Fill it up, right?”
  • A request for additional comment to a White House spokesman wasn’t immediately returned.

One level deeper: Trump also ruled out (for now) imposing tariffs on oil imports, an ask some domestic-based oil companies are asking for. "Am I thinking about doing it as of this moment? No. It's certainly a tool in the toolbox," Trump said at a press briefing later Friday. "Ultimately the marketplace will take care of it," Trump said, indicating he's unlikely to take sweeping action.

The big picture: Storing more oil and most other options Trump has at his disposal are limited and the industry is divided on how aggressively the government should intervene. The real make-or-break moment comes Monday, when the OPEC+ group is set to meet remotely to discuss the possibility of steeply cutting production.

Reality check: The main problem plaguing the sector is the massive drop-off in demand. Analysts say as much as 25 million barrels of oil a day — a quarter of global oil demand — will evaporate this month.

  • If (and it's a big if) Saudi Arabia, other members of the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries and Russia — collectively known as OPEC+ — come together Monday to cut up to 15 million barrels a day, it will put a small bandaid on a giant demand hole.

Between the lines: The deal would make a historically terrible problem for the sector a little less terrible because it would stave off prices from collapsing even more once inventories, places to store oil, fill up in the coming weeks.

  • “It does slow the filling of inventories, which is important for the near-term, because overflowing inventories mean catastrophically low prices,” said Kevin Book, managing director of research firm ClearView Energy Partners. It also “sends the market a signal for the future that there’s a way to work off humongous inventories when the demand recovers.”

Flashback: Unlike most other sectors of the economy before the pandemic, the oil industry was already struggling, due to the persistent problem of too much oil, even with demand humming along like normal.

The bottom line: When the industry emerges from this historic crisis, fewer companies will exist and they will still be in a place of relative struggle with low prices.

Go deeper: Coronavirus fuels historic decline in gasoline demand.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

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