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OPEC. Photo: NurPhoto / Getty Images

A pivotal Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia, the leading players in the OPEC+ group.

Why it matters: Travel and economic freezes from COVID-19 are causing an unprecedented drop in oil demand that has caused prices to crater.

The early March collapse of the OPEC+ production-limiting agreement added even more downward pressure.

Driving the news: Reuters and Bloomberg both report that the meeting is instead tentatively scheduled for later next week.

  • The postponement follows sniping over the last day between Russia and Saudi Arabia over which side is to blame for the March rupture in the roughly three-year-old pact.
  • The Saudi foreign minister, in a statement, said Russian claims about the rupture and the Saudi posture toward U.S. shale producers were "fully devoid of truth."

The big picture: The push for new supply cuts is complicated because the Saudis and Russians have signaled they want other nations to join the curbs, including the U.S., the world's largest producer.

  • The U.S. market system does not enable top-down decisions on output. However, the collapse in prices and demand, and related logistical constraints, will begin pushing U.S. production lower.

What they're saying: “We always remained skeptical about this wider deal as U.S. producers cannot be mandated to cut,” oil analyst Amrita Sen of Energy Aspects Ltd. tells Bloomberg.

“If so, Russia doesn’t come to the table. And if everyone doesn’t cut, Saudi Arabia’s long held stance is that they will not cut either," she said.

What we're watching: What happens to oil prices when trading resumes Sunday evening. Prices have surged in recent days on the prospect of a new production-cutting pact.

  • The global benchmark Brent crude rose to roughly $34-per-barrel on Friday, about $10 higher than where it was mid-week.
  • Quick take: A steep decline when markets re-open will signal that traders think prospects for a deal have become more remote.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Home confinees face imminent return to prison

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thousands of prisoners who've been in home confinement for as long as a year because of the pandemic face returning to prison when it's over — unless President Biden rescinds a last-minute Trump Justice Department memo.

Why it matters: Most prisoners were told they would not have to come back as they were released early with ankle bracelets. Now, their lives are on hold while they wait to see whether or when they may be forced back behind bars. Advocates say about 4,500 people are affected.

The "essential" committee that still doesn't exist

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Nearly five months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the creation of the bipartisan Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, it's not been formed much less met.

Why it matters: Select committees are designed to address urgent matters, but the 117th Congress is now nearly one-quarter complete without this panel assembling. When she announced this committee, Pelosi described it as an "essential force" to "combat the crisis of income and wealth disparity in America."

Biden's ethics end-around for labor

President Biden surveys a water treatment plant during a visit to New Orleans today. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is excusing top officials from ethics rules that would otherwise restrict their work with large labor unions that previously employed them, federal records show.

Why it matters: Labor's sizable personnel presence in the administration is driving policy, and the president's appointment of top union officials to senior posts gives those unions powerful voices in the federal bureaucracy — even at the cost of strictly adhering to his own stringent ethics standards.