(CNN) – The drama playing out in the oil market is not short on oversized characters. But Vladimir Putin and MBS could soon have to make room for a new player: Tariff Man.
President Donald Trump, who proudly calls himself Tariff Man, is threatening to use his favorite economic weapon to protect America's beleaguered oil industry from aggression by Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Those two nations are engaged in an epic price war that, along with an historic collapse in demand from the coronavirus pandemic, has helped send crude crashing to 18-year lows. Dozens of US oil companies are now facing bankruptcy.
"We want to save a great industry," Trump said during a press briefing Sunday.
"If they don't get along, I would do that," Trump said. "I would do tariffs, very substantial tariffs."
But that negotiating strategy would likely be ineffective because the United States imports little crude from Saudi Arabia and Russia these days. If anything, it could backfire on US refineries that rely on a healthy dose of foreign crude to go full blast.