Feb 5, 2019

Axios Generate

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Onto music. 50 years ago today, Cream released "Goodbye," their final album, so one of those cuts is today's intro tune...

1 big thing: The oil boom's climate effect

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The U.S. oil-and-gas production surge could boost domestic and global greenhouse gas emissions in the future, a new study released via the nonpartisan think tank Resources for the Future shows.

Why it matters: Daniel Raimi's analysis takes a broad, global look at the shale boom's climate effects in the years ahead and focuses in-depth on the role of higher oil production.

  • This is in contrast to many prior discussions, which tended to emphasize how higher gas production has cut U.S. carbon emissions over the last decade as the fuel has shoved coal aside in power markets.

What they did: Raimi explores a range of oil-and-gas production levels over the next dozen years based on last year's version of the Energy Information Administration's Annual Energy Outlook.

  • He overlays those projections with emissions estimates for the potent GHG methane associated with shale development.
  • And from there, the study explores how the rise in oil output will reduce global prices as more U.S. crude enters the market and how those price changes may increase global oil consumption.

What they found: There are several reasons to think that what's been the climate benefit of gas replacing coal could become a different story going forward, including these possibilities...

  • High gas output starts to act as a drag on the speed of U.S. renewables' growth and speeds up the closure of nuclear plants.
  • U.S. methane emissions increase from rising oil-and-gas production.
  • And the biggest: Higher oil production lowers global prices and increases its use.

The big picture: There could be a substantial increase in emissions if production rises substantially, climbing on the oil side to 15 million barrels per day by 2030, the study concludes.

  • That's EIA's projection in their so-called high oil and gas resource and technology case, in last year's AEO, and it's not crazy — domestic output has soared in recent years and is now pushing 12 million daily barrels already.

Here are some topline conclusions:

  • "Due primarily to lower oil prices and increased non-U.S. oil consumption, global greenhouse gas emissions under the high production scenario are roughly 700 to 1,200 [million metric tons] higher in 2030 than under the low production scenario," it states.
  • "For reference, 2016 CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion were 417 MMT for Brazil and 1,184 MMT for the entirety of Central and South America," he writes.

Yes, but: The study also openly acknowledges that it rests on a range of limitations and unknowns. It's about the future! For instance, one thing that's not modeled is how OPEC and other producers could engage in more strategic market interventions to prop up prices.

The bottom line: “Because of the global nature of oil markets and the scale of U.S. oil production, the oil effects of the shale revolution [on the climate] are likely to be substantially larger than the natural gas effects moving forward, and not in a good way,” Raimi tells Axios.

2. BP joins peers with good earnings report

BP is the latest oil-and-gas giant to beat expectations.

By the numbers: This morning the company announced a $3.48 billion Q4 profit and a full year haul of $12.7 billion, more than double the 2017 tally, the fruit of higher prices and higher output.

The big picture: The multinational company's report follows earnings announcements from ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell last week that also beat Wall Street forecasts.

  • The Q4 total was lower than Q3, tracking with the overall drop in oil prices late last year. But it was well above the same period in 2017.

The bottom line: Via Bloomberg, "The better-than-expected earnings should give shareholders some comfort after BP took on more debt to pay for a swath of U.S. shale assets, its biggest deal in 20 years. The company’s facilities were still able to churn out cash even as the oil market turned south late last year."

  • In pre-market trading, BP's stock ticked up slightly to around $41.39.

Go deeper: BP's 2018 profit doubles to 5-year high as output soars (Reuters)

3. Who's backing AOC's Green New Deal
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

The Sierra Club and Tom Steyer's NextGen America, as well as veteran Democrat Rep. Earl Blumenauer, were among the first backers yesterday of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's upcoming resolution calling for a Green New Deal.

Where it stands: Ocasio-Cortez's office is circulating a "dear colleague" memo seeking more initial co-sponsors for the resolution that will call for a "national, social, industrial and economic mobilization at a scale not seen since World War II."

  • It's slated to be introduced as early as this week.

Why it matters: The short memo her office is circulating seeking backers, obtained by Axios, provides an early look at support for the first formal — if non-binding — GND effort on Capitol Hill.

  • Democratic Sen. Edward Markey is working on a Senate companion.

Who they are: Other lawmakers listed as initial co-sponsors are Democratic Reps. Brendan Boyle, Joaquin Castro, Yvette Clarke, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Ted Lieu, Joe Neguse, and Ayanna Pressley.

The big picture: The memo lays out the broad framing of what the resolution will call for, including:

Achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers.
Create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all.
Promote justice and equity by preventing current and repairing historic oppression to frontline and vulnerable communities.

Go deeper

4. Latest in policy: Interior nominee and auto emissions

Interior: President Trump on Monday announced he will nominate David Bernhardt, a former longtime energy lobbyist, to lead the Interior Department, ending the search for a permanent replacement for embattled and scandal-ridden Ryan Zinke, Axios' Khorri Atkinson reports.

EPA and cars: Bloomberg has some good reporting that shows EPA and California are far apart when it comes to auto emissions rules.

  • "In separate comments, Sacramento and Washington’s top environmental regulators said they’ve yet to overcome a long-running impasse over the Trump administration’s proposal to cap auto emissions and fuel economy standards after 2020 and strip California of its authority to regulate tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions," they report.
  • Why it matters: Absent a breakthrough, the Trump administration's move to weaken Obama-era mileage and carbon emissions rules is heading toward a high-stakes courtroom showdown over the power of California — and by extension a number of other states — to move ahead with standards that are tougher than federal mandates.
5. Petro notes: LNG, sanctions, thirst

Venezuela: The Wall Street Journal reports that the turmoil and sanctions could jolt the market soon.

  • "Venezuelan crude exports are declining sharply as new U.S. sanctions push the country’s oil industry closer to collapse, threatening a bigger impact on global markets than many experts anticipated, people familiar with the matter say," they report.

LNG: "British energy supplier Centrica and Tokyo Gas Co. have agreed to jointly purchase 2.6 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) a year from Mozambique LNG Company Pte Ltd, the firms said on Tuesday," Reuters reports.

Trend-spotting: Over at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Nikos Tsafos noticed something interesting about U.S. oil demand data.

  • "According to preliminary data for 2018, oil demand surpassed 20 [million barrels per day] for the first time since 2007 and will be just shy of the 2005 peak (20,524 mb/d versus 20,802 mb/d in 2005)," he writes.
  • It marks a key point in the reversal of demand declines from 2005-2012, and he argues that it's not a happy milestone...
"This reversal partly reflects the strong fundamentals in the U.S. economy: growth in petrochemicals, a rebound in freight movements, and more travel by car and plane."
"But it also signals a failure to implement strict efficiency policies—a failure made more acute by the complacency of the current administration, which has touted the lowering of carbon emissions as one reason to be less stringent about regulation."
6. Tesla news: energy storage and charging systems

Buying: Via TechCrunch, "Tesla has acquired energy storage company Maxwell Technologies in an all-stock deal valued at $218 million, a deal aimed at helping the electric automaker improve its batteries and lower costs as more competitors enter the market."

Charging: Electrify America, VW's U.S. charging subsidiary, said Monday that it's installing Tesla Powerpack battery systems at more than 100 charging stations across the country this year.

  • Why it matters: The VW unit said the batteries are a way to keep consumer costs in check when power demand is high.
  • "The battery systems will be deployed to mitigate higher power demand charges and manage operating costs by avoiding or reducing demand and energy charges during peak charging periods," the announcement states.