The Trump administration will appoint Victoria Coates as a special energy representative to Saudi Arabia as Washington struggles to deal with a global oil price crash that drags on the economy and threatens U.S. energy producers, an Energy Department official said. Coates, who was one of President Donald Trump’s longest serving security aides, moved from the White House in February to become a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.
“Coates will be based in Saudi Arabia to ensure the Department of Energy has an added presence in the region,” the department official said. “While her assignment comes at a pivotal time for global oil markets, it has been in the works for a while,” the official added. Her start date is unknown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Trump, who is running for re-election in November, has said he wants to find a medium ground regarding the oil price crash. Earlier in March, he tweeted that low gasoline prices were good for drivers. Last week as the price crash threatened domestic drillers with bankruptcy he told reporters at the White House he would get involved in the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia “at the appropriate time.”
Oil prices have dropped more than half in the last two weeks as Saudi Arabia and Russia launched a price war and the coronavirus pandemic destroyed demand. U.S. crude oil edged higher in after hours trading on Monday to nearly $24 a barrel, after tumbling 29% last week in its steepest slide since the outset of the U.S.-Iraq Gulf War in 1991.