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Talks between OPEC and Russia ended Friday without a deal to deepen or extend oil production cuts as the economic slowdown from the novel coronavirus saps global demand, sending already-soft prices sharply downward.

Why it matters: The collapse of OPEC+ negotiations in Vienna marks a massive rupture in the three-year-old collaboration between giant producers Saudi Arabia and Russia to exert more control of the market amid the rise of U.S. shale production.

Oil is trading at its lowest levels since mid-2017. "The result of today's failed meeting will be a free fall in crude prices, with no floor currently in sight," Rapidan Energy Group said in a note.

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Driving the news: Russia, per multiple reports, refused to endorse an OPEC proposal a day earlier to increase their joint production curbs by 1.5 million barrels per day until the end of 2020.

"Russia's budget is more resilient to low prices than its Middle Eastern allies and it's betting that weak crude values will help wipe out competitors that produce U.S. shale," Bloomberg notes.

What's next: The existing deal that curtails production by 2.1 million barrels per day is now slated to expire at the end of this month.

The OPEC+ group that includes Russia and several other non-OPEC producers remains formally intact but it's unclear what's next.

  • The talks collapse comes amid analysts' estimates that global oil demand has contracted sharply and in 2020 may even decline on a yearly basis compared to 2019.
  • On Monday the International Energy Agency is set to issue closely watched downward revisions of its global oil demand estimates.

What they're saying: "[T]he market is now facing the spectre of unrestrained production once the current OPEC+ agreement expires in March," Wood Mackenzie analyst Ann-Louise Hittle said in a note Friday.

  • However, she adds: "Given weak demand and the likelihood this weakness will persist into the second quarter, it will be hard for any producer to increase their output sharply once the original production deal expires at the end of this month."

Rapidan's note says Russian leaders see the coronavirus requiring deeper and longer cuts — on the order of 3 million to 4 million barrels per day for two years — than it was willing to make.

Go deeper

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

11 hours ago - Economy & Business

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN said Saturday evening it has fired one of its star anchors, Chris Cuomo, following new revelations from a legal review made by the company into Cuomo's involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Why it matters: Saturday's firing speaks to how much pressure CNN was under by employees and critics to address Cuomo's behavior.

Updated 12 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.