The CEOs of Exxon and Chevron reportedly discussed a potential merger of the oil giants, a combination that would have seismic implications for the energy industry.
Exxon CEO Darren Woods and Chevron CEO Mike Wirth held the talks "shortly after the coronavirus pandemic took hold," the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday afternoon, citing anonymous sources.
Exxon representative did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
Chevron spokesperson Braden Reddall said in an email, "As a matter of policy, we do not comment on market rumors or speculation."
The reported merger talks came as the oil industry was grappling with the plummeting price of oil amid a global economic crash stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak. Oil prices temporarily plunged below $0 in April amid a global glut of crude but have since recovered to trade at more than $50 per barrel.
Still, the oil industry faces increasing pressure from governments throughout the world that are seeking to combat climate change, which is worsened by fossil fuels like petroleum.
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It was not immediately clear how a potential combination of Exxon and Chevron would impact American consumers. Gasoline prices are tied closely to the price of oil but have remained below $3 on average for several years due to a global surplus of production.
The Wall Street Journal described the negotiations between Exxon and Chevron as "preliminary" and not "ongoing but could come back in the future."
The two oil companies trace their roots back to John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil monopoly, which U.S. regulators broke up more than a century ago.
Exxon was worth about $190 billion, while Chevron was worth $164 billion.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.