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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.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
40 mins ago - Economy & Business

How the tech stock selloff is hurting average Americans

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Investors holding the ultra-popular Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500 index funds have been hard hit over the last two weeks as tech shares have been roiled by rising U.S. Treasury yields.

Why it matters: Even though the economy is growing and many U.S. stocks are performing well, most investors are seeing their wealth decline because major indexes no longer reflect the overall economy or even a broad swath of public companies — they reflect the performance of a few of the country's biggest companies.

1 hour ago - World

UN rights chief: At least 54 killed, 1,700 detained since Myanmar coup

A Feb. 7 protest in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: Getty Images/Getty Images

Police and military officers in Myanmar have killed at least 54 people during anti-coup protests, while "arbitrarily" detaining over 1,700 people, United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said Thursday.

Why it matters: Protesters have demonstrating across Myanmar for nearly a month, demanding the restoration of democracy after the country's military leaders overthrew its democratically elected government on Feb. 1.