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OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo. Photo: AFP Contributor / Getty Images

A member of the commission that oversees Texas' oil production spoke Friday with OPEC Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo.

Why it matters: The extraordinary chat between Barkindo and the Texas Railroad Commission's Ryan Sitton underscores the unprecedented upheaval in global oil markets and the collapse in prices.

What they're saying: "Great conversation on global supply and demand. We all agree an international deal must get done to ensure economic stability as we recover from COVID-19," Sitton said via Twitter, adding that Barkindo invited him to OPEC's June meeting.

  • Via Reuters, Barkindo confirmed the discussion and told the news service he discussed his "perspective on current developments, and the possibility of future cooperation."

The big picture: Travel and economic freezes from COVID-19 are cratering global oil demand, while Saudi Arabia and Russia are waging a price war following the rupture of their output-limiting agreement this month.

  • Prices for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, have fallen by two-thirds since early January, and are now at their lowest levels in roughly two decades.
  • A suite of U.S. oil companies have announced plans to sharply cut back their spending.

Driving the news: Sitton, in a Bloomberg op-ed Friday morning, floated the idea that the commission could use its power to require a 10% cut in U.S. production — if the Saudis cut theirs by 10% from pre-pandemic levels and Russia does too.

  • He said this would stabilize prices in the mid-$30s per barrel (they're around $20 now) and "stave off a total oil industry meltdown."
  • His op-ed also notes that the federal government would need to make such a deal.

But, but, but: Wayne Christian, the Texas commission's chairman, threw cold water on the idea of imposing production curbs in a Friday statement.

He noted, among other reservations, that it hasn't happened in more than 40 years and that "we do not have staff at the agency with experience in this process and our IT capabilities to handle this process are limited at best."

What's new: Reuters reported Friday afternoon that the Trump administration "intends to send a senior official to Riyadh to boost efforts to stabilize energy markets."

  • Trump on Thursday signaled an interest in trying to somehow intervene in the Saudi-Russia dispute.
  • Bloomberg reports there have been "tentative signs" that Russia and the Saudis "may be edging towards an off-ramp from the price war."

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

3D printing's next act: big metal objects

Chief Scientist Andy Bayramian makes modifications to the laser system on Seurat's 3D metal printer. Photo courtesy of Seurat Technologies.

A new metal 3D printing technology could revolutionize the way large industrial products like planes and cars are made, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of mass manufacturing.

Why it matters: 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — has been used since the 1980s to make small plastic parts and prototypes. Metal printing is newer, and the challenge has been figuring out how to make things like large car parts faster and cheaper than traditional methods.

Updated 4 hours ago - Technology

Mayors see cryptocurrency as a way to address income inequality

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

At the U.S. Conference of Mayors' meeting in D.C. this week, there's buzz around the idea of giving cryptocurrency accounts to low-income people.

Why it matters: Cities have been experimenting with newfangled ways to address income inequality — like guaranteed income programs — and the latest wave of trials could involve paying benefits or dividends in bitcoin, stablecoin or other digital currencies.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February
  2. Vaccines: Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker