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API Asks Trump For Help

The American Petroleum Institute (API) has written to President Donald Trump and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a request to grant the oil industry temporary waivers from "non-essential compliance obligations," The Hill reports, citing the letter.

The non-essential obligations regard record-keeping, training, and other activities unrelated to safety.

Reuters reported on the letter three days ago, saying the API had motivated its request with the danger of running low on healthy workforce, necessary to continue supplying fuel to the country.

"The oil and natural gas industry, like other critical infrastructure sectors, is working tirelessly to ensure there is no interruption in our supply chains as a result of this pandemic," the letter said.

Interestingly, the letter, signed by API president Mike Sommers, comes just a couple of weeks after Sommers told CNN that the U.S. oil industry had no intention of asking the government for a bailout.

"We have no interest in engaging in discussions about bailouts," Sommers told CNN. "This is not something we are advocating for."

The comments came in response to information, coming from an unnamed source, that Washington was considering financial aid for the oil industry, which is in a vulnerable position right now, what with the coronavirus outbreak and the oil price war that has sunk West Texas Intermediate to below $30 a barrel.

A bailout will be highly controversial, and the API knows this. It will certainly do no good for the industry's reputation. But help in the form of waivers for non-critical regulatory requirements might help cushion the blow that, according to analysts, will lead to bankruptcies and potentially massive layoffs in a worse repeat of the 2014-2016 crisis.

Trump is in an awkward position, however. On the one hand, cheap gas at the pump is attractive to voters. On the other, the oil stocks crash caused by the price slump has dragged the whole market down, and this is not so good for voters. 

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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