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NEW YORK CITY, RAW – The chief executives of ExxonMobil Corp and Chevron Corp reportedly held preliminary talks in early 2020 to explore combining the two largest US oil producers.

The proposed merger would have been the biggest of all time, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The discussions, which are no longer ongoing, are indicative of the pressure the energy sector’s most dominant companies faced as COVID-19 took hold and crude prices plunged.

The talks between Exxon Chief Executive Darren Woods and Chevron CEO Mike Wirth were serious enough for legal documents involving certain aspects of the merger discussions to be drafted, one of the sources said on Sunday.

The reason the talks ended could not be learned.

Exxon and Chevron, which have market capitalisations of $US190 billion ($A249 billion) and $US164 billion, respectively, declined to comment.