Good morning. Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,365 words, a 5-minute read.
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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
There's simply nothing policymakers can do that will quickly fix the oil sector's woes, and events this morning show why the path ahead is so difficult and will overwhelm some companies.
Driving the news: This morning, the International Energy Agency issued an immense downward revision of its 2020 estimates for global oil demand.
Threat level: An International Monetary Fund report this morning also shows how the crude price collapse is creating financial jeopardy far beyond America's oil patch.
Why it matters: IEA's data and the price moves signal how even the big new OPEC+ supply-cutting pact and expected reductions from some G20 nations are getting overwhelmed by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
But, but, but: "Even so, the implied stock build-up of 12 [million bpd] in the first half of the year still threatens to overwhelm the logistics of the oil industry — ships, pipelines and storage tanks — in the coming weeks," they note.
By the numbers: IEA now estimates that demand this month will be roughly 29 million bpd lower than the same period last year, and still off by 26 million bpd next month.
What's next: IEA's analysis explores how the situation could eventually improve.
The chart above shows IEA's current projections for oil demand this year, but the agency is cautioning that the estimates are "fraught with uncertainties."
Quick take: While the estimates are fairly consistent with some other forecasts, the Paris-based agency's work is closely watched and helps confirm how the global energy landscape has been turned upside down.
What they're saying: "In a few years' time, when we look back on 2020 we may well see that it was the worst year in the history of global oil markets," IEA executive director Fatih Birol told reporters this morning, per Reuters.
Apple released data yesterday from nations and cities worldwide that help to show the stunning reductions in travel due to the coronavirus.
Why it matters: Stay-at-home policies and closures of schools, offices and more are among the forces driving the collapse in oil demand (so is the decline of flying, which is not directly captured here).
What they did: Apple unveiled an interactive online tool that shows the results of changes in the number of requests for directions to Apple Maps. It's one proxy for reductions in travel, and captures direction requests for walking, driving and mass transit including buses.
Take it for a spin. The data for the U.S. overall are above, but you can also check many countries and cities.
The big picture: Apple said they released the data to help efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
New polling shows an immense partisan divide on the threat of climate change, one that contrasts sharply with widespread agreement on the risks of spreading infectious disease.
What they found: Check out the chart above, showing some of the results from Pew Research Center polling conducted March 3–29.
The intrigue: Another finding is that young people are less worried about a bunch of different threats than their older peers, with one big exception — climate change.
What they did: Pew asked three age groupings about cyberattacks, Russia, terrorism, infectious diseases and more.
The EPA proposed Tuesday to keep air quality standards for soot pollution unchanged from 2012, Axios' Marisa Fernandez reports.
Why it matters: States' compliance with toughened standards would have been years away. Nonetheless, this action has relevance to today's pandemic, according to Axios' Amy Harder.
The big picture: Particulate matter — tiny bits of pollution that comes from a range of sources, including fuel combustion and indoor sources — is associated with acute cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
What they're saying:
“The U.S. has made incredible strides in reducing particulate matter concentrations across the nation. Based on review of the scientific literature and recommendation from our independent science advisors, we are proposing to retain existing PM standards which will ensure the continued protection of both public health and the environment.”— EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler
But, but, but: The decision drew widespread criticism from environmentalists, who called it an affront to public health.
Catch up fast: The announcement comes just a week after Harvard released a study that found higher levels of the fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, were associated with higher rates of death from COVID-19.
Go deeper: Trump officials reject stricter air quality standards, despite link between air pollution, coronavirus risks (The Washington Post)
Diplomacy: A pair of newly published interviews with Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette offers a window onto the negotiations that led to the OPEC+ deal, and the U.S. posture moving forward.
Shale: "Texas regulators on Tuesday debated curtailing oil output in the state in response to cratering demand caused by the new coronavirus, but it quickly became apparent that the industry was divided over taking such a historic step." (WSJ)
Arctic: "International energy major Shell has decided not to complete a deal on a Russian Arctic oil joint venture, Meretoyakha Neftegaz, it was expected to enter with Gazprom Neft, because of some 'external' factors." (Reuters)