Oil tankers leased by PDVSA in Curacao. Photo: Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. sanctions have crippled Venezuela's oil industry so fully that the country has half a billion dollars worth of oil sitting in ships off its coast, Bloomberg's Lucia Kassai and Fabiola Zerpa report.

What's happening: An armada of 16 ships, holding 8.36 million barrels of Venezuelan crude, are floating off the country's coast. The cargoes belong to PDVSA, Chevron, Valero and Russia's Rosneft oil company.

The big picture: The sanctions have further cut off what was an already ailing oil sector for Venezuela — the country's only real export. The nation with the world's largest proven oil reserves had been pumping oil at a 70-year low even before the latest sanctions on the oil sector went into place.

Details: Oil prices edged up on Monday, a dead cat bounce from the selloff that followed President Trump's calls in a tweet for OPEC to "relax and take it easy" with its planned output cuts. Crude had previously reached a 3-month high in anticipation of the cuts from OPEC and Russia.

  • Saudi Arabia is planning to pump 500,000 less barrels per day in March, and Russia has signaled it will further reduce production over the next 2 months. The cuts are expected to last through June.

Yes, but: Goldman Sachs' energy analysts expect prices to rise as high as $75 a barrel, they said in a note to clients on Monday, but reverse course as the return of the "New Oil Order" returns, with U.S. producers pumping up production and the expiration of OPEC+ cuts.

Go deeper: Venezuela and the new oil landscape

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Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 33,867,247 — Total deaths: 1,012,341 — Total recoveries: 23,537,059Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 7,229,319 — Total deaths: 206,887 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Education: School-aged children now make up 10% of all U.S COVID-19 cases.
  4. Health: The coronavirus' alarming impact on the body.
  5. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  6. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.
Ina Fried, author of Login
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Facebook removes Trump ads tying refugees to COVID-19

Photo Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook said Wednesday that it was removing a series of ads from President Trump's campaign that linked American acceptance of refugees with increased coronavirus risk, a connection Facebook says is without merit.

Why it matters: The ads were pulled after they received thousands of impressions and are a sign that the Trump campaign continues to test the limits of social media rules on false information.

Over 73 million people watched the first debate on TV

Data: Nielsen; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 73.1 million people watched the first presidential debate on television on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: While that's a sizable audience for any American TV program, it's down more than 13% from the record number of TV viewers who tuned in for the first debate of the 2016 election. The chaotic nature of the debate and the overall uncertainty around this year's election may have pushed some viewers away.