Coronavirus oil plunge leads Trump to offer storage until prices recover

President offers '1,000 percent' support to oil execs

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President Trump announced Friday that he would open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for energy companies to store oil to be sold once prices improve.

“With all the jobs and all the good that they do we’re going to make sure that they stay in good shape,” he said.

The president’s announcement came after he met with a group of energy industry executives at the White House and promised that he’s “1,000 percent” supporting them as the coronavirus pandemic and a dispute between Russian and Saudi officials have sunk oil prices.

“We’ll work this out,” Trump told the group.

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with energy sector business leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Friday, April 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

OIL SOARS AS OPEC PLANS PEACE TALKS ON PRICE WAR

The SPR will make 30 million barrels of storage capacity immediately available to U.S. producers and another 47 million barrels’ worth later, according to the Department of Energy.

Prices hit an 18-year low last month as demand plunged amid an unhindered output, but comments from Trump about a potential resolution coming soon from Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have helped prices recover somewhat. The price of benchmark crude oil rose $3.02 to $28.34 per barrel Friday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, was up $41.17 to $34.11.

Both leaders “want something to happen badly,” Trump said Friday. He said on Thursday that the countries might be agreeing to cut output by 10 million or 15 million barrels.

Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with energy sector business leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Friday, April 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

TRUMP SAYS DEAL MAY CUT 10-15M BARRELS DAILY

The White House has previously sought $3 billion to purchase oil as part of the coronavirus stimulus package, but lawmakers in Congress killed the provision.

During the meeting Friday, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette suggested oil prices could even go negative — when energy companies pay customers to take surplus oil off their hands due to a lack of storage.

“They will be paying us,” he said.

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However, Brouillette said in a press release that the department would continue working with Congress “to find ways to make funding available for DOE to buy American oil.”

Officials expect the first crude oil deliveries from producers to arrive later this month or in early May, according to Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg. The SPR will be set to accept as many as 685,000 barrels per day.

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