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U.S. oil prices crashed into negative territory for the first time in history. Photo: Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images

There are various ideas kicking around, in addition to previously floated proposals — which Congress has yet to approve — to buy 77 million barrels of oil for the SPR.

The big picture: Steps that don't require new Capitol Hill actions could be key for the White House. Edward Moya, an analyst with the firm OANDA, warned in a note that President Trump "will see strong resistance from Congress in giving out any funds to oil and gas companies."

Driving the news: "The Trump administration is considering offering federal stimulus funds to embattled oil-and-gas producers in exchange for government ownership stakes in the companies or their crude reserves," the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • The research firm ClearView Energy Partners said in a note: "Treasury could guarantee loans to distressed firms in return for equity stakes or senior debt, and Washington could use its voting shares to compel shut-ins (i.e., as part of a bargain with OPEC+)."
  • Mnuchin said recently that oil companies can seek to use new lending programs the Federal Reserve is setting up, and Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told Bloomberg yesterday that the administration is working to ensure that access.

Other ideas: There have also been reports in Bloomberg and elsewhere that administration officials have weighed plans to pay companies not to produce. It would involve buying large amounts of oil to be part of the nation's emergency stockpile — but without extracting it first.

  • Meanwhile, the American Exploration & Production Council, an industry group, yesterday urged administration officials to pressure China to make good in pledges to significantly boost purchases of U.S. energy as part of the recent trade agreement.

Go deeper: Yes, oil prices are negative. No, you won't get paid to fill up your car

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 30, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Oil giants Shell and Total report profits despite staggering earnings declines

Photo: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Shell and Total SA announced mammoth earnings declines Thursday that reflect the pandemic's toll on energy prices and demand, but the companies nonetheless beat expectations and eked out profits.

Driving the news: Shell announced second-quarter adjusted net earnings of $638 million, an 82% decline from the same period last year.

51 mins ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

1 hour ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.