Explainer: Antitrust law will not get in the way of U.S. acting to raise oil prices

Diane Bartz | Reuters

It is illegal for oil producers to meet to discuss pushing up oil prices under U.S. antitrust law, but perfectly legal if state regulators or the federal government set lower production levels for them, legal experts said.

Oil and gas companies have been gushing red ink and cutting tens of thousands of workers as prices tumble, prompting regulators in Texas, the largest U.S. oil-producing state, to consider calling for a production cut.

On Monday the May futures contract for U.S. crude closed at minus $37.63 a barrel as traders desperate to avoid owning oil paid others to take it. Global oil demand has fallen by as much as a third as the spread of the new coronavirus has forced more than 3 billion people to go into lockdown.

In response, U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday called on the federal government to come up with a way to bail out the U.S. oil and gas industry.

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