File photo taken on March 12, 2019 shows operating oil pumps in Luling of Texas, the United States. U.S. oil prices turned negative on April 20, 2020. West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery shed more than 300 percent to settle at -37.63 U.S. dollars per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)
File photo taken on March 12, 2019 shows operating oil pumps in Luling of Texas, the United States. U.S. oil prices turned negative on April 20, 2020. West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery shed more than 300 percent to settle at -37.63 U.S. dollars per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

A special task force was formed Tuesday to help recover the hard-hit oil industry in the U.S. state of Texas.

The formation of the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Oil Economic Recovery was announced during the meeting of the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC), which regulates the oil and gas industry in America’s largest oil-producing state.

This task force will be led by the leadership of the state’s major trade associations, including the Texas Oil and Gas Association, the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association, the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, the Panhandle Producers and Royalty Owners Association, and the Texas Pipeline Association.

“I want to challenge the task force to look at every aspect on what can be done at the state level to assist operators and save jobs as we endure these historic circumstances,” said RRC Chairman Wayne Christian. “The goal is to save as many jobs, enable operators to survive and return to a robust level as quickly as possible.”

U.S. oil prices crashed to the negative territory for the first time in history on Monday, fueled by pandemic-related demand shock and oversupply fears. The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for May delivery shed 55.9 U.S. dollars, or over 305 percent, to settle at -37.63 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, implying that producers would pay buyers to take oil off their hands.

The oil market experienced another wild session on Tuesday with the new front-month June contract for the U.S. benchmark falling more than 43 percent.

Earlier this month, the RRC convened a hearing to obtain testimony as to whether the organization should limit production of oil in Texas. It deferred until May 5 the decision on whether to curtail production for the first time since the 1970s. Enditem

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