President Trump will meet with the leaders of several large U.S. oil companies on Friday, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper's sources said that the meeting would include the CEOs of ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), Chevron (NYSE:CVX), and Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY) as well as the founder and executive chairman of Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR). They'll discuss measures they would like the government to take to help the U.S. oil industry survive the crash in oil prices being driven by the COVID-19 pandemic on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia and Russia boosting supply in a price war on the other.
Those rock-bottom crude prices claimed their first victim Wednesday as one of North Dakota's leading producers, Whiting Petroleum, filed for bankruptcy.
Trump will reportedly discuss potential aid to the industry, which could include putting tariffs on oil imports from Saudi Arabia, as well as a waiver of the Jones Act, which requires that American vessels be used to transport goods like oil between U.S. ports.
Beyond the issue of low oil prices, another big problem for the industry is the lack of storage space for oil. With demand plunging and supply from Russia and Saudi Arabia surging, U.S. players are producing more than they can sell or store. One solution under consideration is allowing the industry to lease space in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The country can currently store an additional 77 million barrels in former salt caverns in Texas and Louisiana before those underground reservoirs reach capacity.
Trump also recently spoke with Russian President Putin about the possibility that the two countries could work together to stabilize the oil market. Meanwhile, Texas's oil regulator met with members with OPEC to discuss ways to potentially curb the oversupply issues. One potential outcome of these talks would be a coordinated production cut involving not only Russia and members of OPEC, but also U.S. oil producers.