The Energy Department official will work closely with U.S State Department officials in Riyadh and an existing energy attache for months at the least, the officials said on condition of anonymity and on not being quoted directly.
Saudi Arabia and Russia are locked in a war for global oil market after their three-year deal to restrain output collapsed this month. The price war comes during a time of severely reduced global demand due to the spread of the coronavirus, and the oversupply and demand strain have pushed crude prices to near 20-year lows this week.
The officials said the Trump administration will continue to reduce global oil output with sanctions on what they called bad actors in Iran and Venezuela, both of which are OPEC members, and their shipping networks.
They said to the extent that Russia is involved in lifting Venezuelan oil, it will be sanctioned. The Trump administration has recently imposed sanctions on two units of Russia’s state oil company Rosneft for lifting Venezuelan oil.