America’s Oil Patch Is Having a Heart Attack

The historic deal Trump helped engineer to curb global output isn’t enough to avert unprecedented pain for the domestic industry

The coronavirus pandemic has emptied out cities around the world, causing a historic drop in oil demand just as production was reaching new highs. WSJ explains the oil price bust that could reshape energy markets. Photo Illustration: Carlos Waters/WSJ

If you were to whisk an American from a few decades ago to today’s America in a time machine, many things would strike her as odd—deserted streets, everyone wearing masks and a U.S. president urging OPEC to raise oil prices. One that might seem familiar: the price of oil, which plunged below $12 a barrel overnight.

It has barely been a week since President Trump sealed what seemed like a rare diplomatic victory by shepherding a deal among major oil producers to cut as much as 15 million barrels a day of output globally, with...