President Donald Trump said Tuesday he will meet US energy executives this week to discuss plummeting oil values amid coronavirus and a Saudi-Russian price war.

"I'm going to meet with the oil companies on Friday," he told a news conference.

Trump expressed alarm at the impact on the US energy industry from the twin blows of the economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus and the Russia-Saudi row.

"We don't want to lose our great oil companies," he said.

But he said he had spoken with leaders in both Moscow and Riyadh and "I think that they will work it out over the next few days."

Oil prices fell to $21.42 a barrel on Wednesday, as markets pondered the devastation to demand.

The American Petroleum Institute said it was organizing the Friday meeting with Trump, but denied the purpose was to ask for financial help.

The oil industry has been hammered by falling prices since the outbreak began
The oil industry has been hammered by falling prices since the outbreak began Saudi Aramco / -

"Natural gas and oil will be critical to our nation's economic recovery," an official with the industry lobbying group said in a statement.

"We are not seeking any government subsidies or industry-specific intervention to address the recent market downturn at this time."

Trump is expected to meet ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods, Chevron chief Michael Wirth, and Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental Petroleum, the source said on condition of anonymity.

The heads of Devon Energy, Phillips 66 and Energy Transfer Partners also will be present, the source added.

US shale oil producers, which had made the country self-sufficient, have been particularly hard hit by falling prices and the global economic slowdown.

The American oil group Whiting Petroleum Corporation, which specializes in shale deposits in North Dakota and Colorado, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday, which under US law allows the company protection from its creditors while it restructures.