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Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Trump said Thursday he's eyeing intervention in the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, a dispute that combined with COVID-19's economic toll is pushing prices sharply downward and creating financial jeopardy for U.S. producers.

At the appropriate time, I will get involved, yes.
— President Trump

Why it matters: The pledge came in Trump's first extensive comments on the upended oil market, but he also suggested that he has mixed feelings about the price collapse.

  • Trump, at a White House briefing on the COVID-19 response, said low gas prices were helpful to consumers. But he also said the decline "hurts a great industry and very powerful industry."
  • "We're trying to find some kind of medium ground," the president said.

Where it stands: Prices for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, rose into the $25-per-barrel range Thursday, since dropping Wednesday to about $20, an 18-year low. However, it's still far below the roughly $63 range where prices were at the beginning of the year.

Catch up fast: Early this month, the production-limiting agreement between OPEC and Russia collapsed, prompting Saudi Arabia to announce lower prices and plans to increase supplies.

  • It comes as drastically curtailed travel and economic activity due to COVID-19 are sharply cutting global demand for oil.

What we don't know: Trump did not say what form the U.S. involvement could take.

But the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the U.S. could ask Saudi Arabia to revisit plans to hike output via communications through the State Department and National Security Council.

The story, citing an unnamed administration official, said the U.S. is weighing potential sanctions against Russia.

  • Separately, the Energy Department on Thursday announced a solicitation to buy an initial 30 million barrels of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, part of a wider plan to fill the stockpile. However, the plan requires congressional approval.

Go deeper

Updated 36 mins ago - World

Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" when the gang abducted them in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro. Security forces placed six U.S. oil executives under house arrest later Saturday, per AP.

Kenosha shooting lawsuit accuses police of coordinating with militia

Police and protesters confront in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse on Aug. 25, 2020. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The only survivor of a fatal shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during protests last year has accused law enforcement in a lawsuit of conspiring with a "band of white nationalist vigilantes," the Washington Post reported Saturday.

Of note: Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, is due to stand trial on Nov. 1, accused of wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, who filed the suit, and killing two other people protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Aug. 25, 2020. He's pleaded not guilty to charges including homicide and attempted homicide and maintains he fired in self-defense.