Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

I chatted yesterday with Bob McNally, whose well-received January 2017 book Crude Volatility traced the history of oil markets and analyzed (among other things) the withering of OPEC's limited power.

He shared his views on the recent attempts by the Saudi-led cartel and other producers including Russia to regain market influence; Trump's policy moves; what's next for prices, and more.

OPEC: "They have been more successful at managing sentiment and influencing traders for short periods of time than they have been at their traditional role of a swing producer, which is managing supply," said McNally, president of the Rapidan Group.

Crystal ball, part 1: despite the recent blip upwards after falling to their lowest levels of the year last week, the bearish McNally sees prices heading much lower in the not-too-distant future, getting into the low-$30s per barrel by the first half of next year, if not sooner. The recently extended production-limiting deal between OPEC, Russia and others isn't close to enough to tame the bears.

  • "Since 2014 I have been the biggest bear I know, and where I have made mistakes is I haven't been bearish enough," McNally said in Washington, D.C. after speaking at the Energy Information Administration conference.

Crystal ball, part 2: McNally also sees a big, big uptick in prices coming after "one more bust phase." McNally agrees with analysts who say lower industry capital spending in recent years on new projects worldwide will hinder supply in a few years.

But there's more to it: McNally says the global thirst for oil is going to be higher than many believe.

  • "Everyone will be looking at the supply side. What we are going to miss is how thirsty demand is."
  • He believes that five years from now, oil prices will be well north of $100 per barrel.

Trump and policy: The most significant policy change for the industry is not removal of regulations but rather the administration's favorable view of oil-and-gas infrastructure construction, signified by approval of the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines.

It's a reversal of what he calls a trend to more restrictive policy toward oil infrastructure permitting by Democrats that had emerged and was a threat to continue.

  • "It's the bullet that missed them," he said. "That could have really caused problems for industry."

McNally also discussed how the Trump administration might respond if prices crater below the low-$30s that he's forecasting, and believes retaliatory trade measures could emerge.

  • "If that [price collapse] were to happen, it would cause spasms of pain in the U.S. oil patch, and one big difference between Republican administrations and Democratic ones in general, particularly this one, is that the White House and Republican Congress is going to feel the pain of the producers, and they would, I think, interpret a collapse in oil prices through sort of a trade lens, as a direct attack by OPEC on our oil sector, and putting at risk the 'energy dominance' that is being talked about this week," he said.

Go deeper

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.

Exclusive: Hundreds of kids held in Border Patrol stations

Migrants cross the Rio Bravo to get to El Paso, Texas. Photo: Herika Martinez/AFP via Getty Images

More than 700 children who crossed from Mexico into the United States without their parents were in Border Patrol custody as of Sunday, according to an internal Customs and Border Protection document obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The current backup is yet another sign of a brewing crisis for President Biden — and a worsening dilemma for these vulnerable children. Biden is finding it's easier to talk about preventing warehousing kids at the southern border than solving the problem.

Pompeo plots 2024 power play

Mike Pompeo in Washington on Feb. 12. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Mike Pompeo has quickly reentered the political fray, raising money for Republicans, addressing key political gatherings and joining an advocacy group run by Donald Trump's former lawyer.

Why it matters: The former secretary of state is widely considered a potential 2024 presidential contender. His professional moves this week indicate he's working to keep his name in the headlines and bolster a political brand built largely on foreign policies easily contrasted with the Biden White House.