Apr 20, 2020 - Energy & Environment

U.S. crude prices slide

Pump jacks draw crude oil from the Long Beach Oil Field under Discovery Well Park in Signal Hill, California. Photo: David McNew/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. crude prices plummeted in Asian trading hours Monday morning amid concerns about where to store the excess oil the world isn't using while countries are on lockdown over the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Our thought bubble, per Axios' Amy Harder: The story with the oil industry remains the same despite the OPEC deal this month to steeply cut oil production: There’s too much oil, too few places to put it and far too little demand for it."

What's new: Prices on the May contract for West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 15.54% to $15.43 a barrel, and the global benchmark Brent crude dropped 0.68% to $27.89 a barrel.

  • "The OPEC deal was always about making the situation a little less terrible, not reversing it," Harder notes. "The latest oil prices reflect that the storage part of this situation is getting more dire, and it will continue to do so."

Flashback: Global oil storage is "rapidly filling — exceeding 70% and approaching operating max," Steve Puckett, executive chairman of TRI-ZEN International, an energy consultancy, told CNBC this month.

Go deeper: A world locked down and drowning in oil

Go deeper

Trump's troubles grow, spread

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump is confronting the most dire political environment of his presidency, with his support dropping fast from Texas to Wisconsin, even among his base of religious and older voters. 

Why it matters: Top Republicans tell Axios that Trump's handling of the nation's civil unrest, including his hasty photo op at St. John's Church after the violent clearing of Lafayette Park, make them much more worried about his chance of re-election than they were one week ago.

Social media takes on world leaders

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Social media companies are finally beginning to take action on posts from world leaders that violate their policies, after years of letting them mostly say whatever they wanted unfiltered to millions of people.

Why it matters: Government officials are among the users most likely to abuse the wide reach and minimal regulation of tech platforms. Mounting pressure to stop harmful content from spreading amid the coronavirus pandemic, racial protests and a looming U.S. election has spurred some companies to finally do something about it.

Coronavirus cases spike in Texas and Arizona

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise, Naema Ahmed/Axios

Texas, Arizona and Oregon saw significant spikes last week in new coronavirus infections, while cases also continued to climb in a handful of states where steady increases have become the norm.

Why it matters: Nationwide, new cases have plateaued over the past week. To get through this crisis and safely continue getting back out into the world, we need them to go down — a lot.