WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has invited oil executives to the White House to discuss potential aid for the industry as the coronavirus pandemic spurs a historic slump in energy prices, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal, which was first to report on the meeting citing unidentified sources, said Trump would discuss a range of options to help the industry, including the possibility of tariffs on oil imports from Saudi Arabia.

The meeting is to take place on Friday, the Journal said, with major drillers including Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp and Occidental Petroleum Corp due to participate.

A spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute, which represents the biggest oil and gas companies in the United States, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

World oil prices have lost roughly two thirds of their value so far this year as the fast-spreading coronavirus brings global economies to a virtual standstill, and as Saudi Arabia and Russia flood the market with oil in a price war between major producers.

The collapse in prices has threatened the once-booming U.S. drilling industry, which has a relatively high cost of production, leading Washington to scramble for ways to protect the sector.

Trump this week called Russia and Saudi Arabia’s price war “crazy” and spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the issue. The Trump administration is also planning to send a special envoy to Riyadh to push for lower output.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Jeff Mason; Editing by Tom Brown

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