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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

Updated 2 mins ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 4 mins 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" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — 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" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — 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
31 mins ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.