The White House is weighing options to provide financial assistance to U.S. oil producers getting hammered by the price collapse, but the picture is murky right now.

Why it matters: It’s a sign of the rapidly worsening conditions for the sector and the Trump administration’s scramble to respond to the effects of the coronavirus and falling prices.

Driving the news: The internal discussions were first reported by the Washington Post, and subsequently confirmed by Axios.

  • I’ve also learned that independent oil-and-gas producers via the American Exploration and Production Council (AXPC) has been in touch with the White House on the topic.

Where it stands: There’s a bunch of ideas flying around. The WashPost reported that low-interest federal loans were the most likely option for the potential aid.

  • Bloomberg reports that some industry lobbyists are pitching the idea of the government buying up some oil to put into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
  • That would “enable the government to take at least 78 million barrels off the world market and provide a modest bump in prices,” per Bloomberg.
  • The same story also says that administration is considering a separate idea of lowering royalties on oil and natural gas produced on federal lands.

The intrigue: The Washington Examiner reports that there’s some pushback from conservatives to the idea of financial aid for producers.

  • Their piece has comments from officials with the Heritage Foundation and the Institute for Energy Research.

What they’re saying: AXPC CEO Anne Bradbury said in a statement Tuesday that the group wants “a solution that ensures American companies can continue to invest in and produce low-cost, reliable energy.”

  • “We believe in the free market system and will advocate for policies that support a level playing field to address geopolitical manipulation of the market,” she said.

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