Coronavirus in Texas: Officials to discuss oil production cuts; nearly 14,000 Texans have tested positive for the virus

Mike Chiari The Texas Tribune

Tuesday’s biggest developments:

  • Texas Railroad Commission will discuss oil production cuts amid coronavirus pandemic
  • State nearing 14,000 cases of people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Texas officials to discuss request that state cut oil production

[5 a.m.] Attention from across the oil and gas world will turn to Texas on Tuesday as state regulators hold a virtual public meeting to consider cutting oil production, which hasn’t been done in the state since the 1970s.

The single item on Tuesday’s agenda of the Texas Railroad Commission is to discuss the request of two large Texas oil companies, Pioneer Natural Resources based in Irving and Parsley Energy based in Austin, that the state cut oil production as global demand has plunged. At Tuesday’s meeting, the commission is expected to “determine reasonable market demand for oil in the state of Texas.”

Despite its name, the Texas Railroad Commission regulates the huge oil and gas industry and not railroads.

The price of West Texas Intermediate crude closed at around $23 per barrel Monday, following a development Sunday in which a large group of oil-producing countries, including Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, agreed to slash oil production by 9.7 million barrels a day beginning in May, which amounts to the largest-ever coordinated cut.

But the devastating decline in oil consumption as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has already affected Texas oil producers.

Chairman Wayne Christian and Commissioners Christi Craddick and Ryan Sitton will lead the 9:30 a.m. commission meeting. There are 55 speakers scheduled to provide three-minute presentations, and written comments have been submitted to the commissioners by the scheduled speakers and others across the industry. — Mitchell Ferman

Coronavirus alters parole programs Texas prisoners must complete before being released

[5 a.m.] As the nation is seeing a push to get more people out from behind bars during the new coronavirus outbreak, Texas advocates are asking the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to immediately release people who have already been granted parole but still need to complete education or treatment programs. They argue that these people can continue their programs online or outside of prisons, which are known incubators for disease.

But the idea of increased release has met steady resistance from some law enforcement and Texas officials who fear letting more people out of prison and jail could lead to more crime during what is already a disastrous time for the state.

But relatives of Texas prisoners approved for parole question why their loved ones have to stay in disease-prone facilities while completing programs they say could be done virtually and from home. — Jolie McCullough

Texas nears 14,000 cases and exceeds 280 deaths

[5 a.m.] On Tuesday, Texas officials are expected to disclose the most recent number of people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus. More than 13,900 have contract the virus, according to numbers released Monday. More than 280 people have died.

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