🍺 Almost time! But first, today's newsletter has a Smart Brevity count of 1,035 words, 4 minutes. Oh, and Generate returns Tuesday after the long weekend.

👀 Oil OMG: Exxon is nearing acquisition of shale giant Pioneer Natural Resources, a potential $60 billion deal that would "reshape" the U.S. industry, the WSJ scooped.

  • Exxon told Axios they don't comment on "market rumors." Eyes peeled.

🎶 This week in 1981, the Police released "Ghost in the Machine," which provides today's intro tune...

1 big thing: Why minerals don't have to be the new oil

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios.

Two boldface names in wonk circles say electric vehicle growth won't inevitably require the U.S. to be overwhelmingly reliant on China, Ben writes.

Driving the news: A new essay by Brian Deese, ex-head of President Joe Biden's National Economic Council, and Columbia University's Jason Bordoff lays out why EVs and other climate-friendly tech don't simply replace oil reliance with a new form of resource insecurity.

Why it matters: China is now a dominant supplier of several key battery materials.

The jointly-written piece in Foreign Policy comes as Donald Trump and other Republicans are attacking White House EV policies, calling them a sop to Beijing in attack lines sure to resurface in the 2024 election.

Zoom out: Beyond politics, geopolitical risks stemming from China's outsized role in EV battery and related materials production, and renewable supply chains, is a concern dogging the energy transition.

What they're saying: Bordoff — an Obama-era White House energy aide — and Deese lay out why "the risks of import dependence for energy storage needs are not nearly as severe as those for oil."

  • Innovation gives lots of cards to play. For instance, abundant fast-charging enables smaller batteries, curbing the need for ever larger and more mineral-intensive ones in a fight for more range. And battery chemistry changes can diversify the types of materials used and extend range.
  • Minerals are far more diverse than oil. They note that huge amounts of lithium, copper and nickel are found in democracies. Meanwhile, China's dominance is mainly its role in refining, processing, and battery manufacturing — industries that can be recreated elsewhere — rather than raw material extraction a la Saudi Arabian or Russian oil.
  • Oil supply disruptions create a bigger jolt. Battery supply chain risks are real, but "minerals and batteries are inputs to manufactured products, not the daily flow of energy that keeps our lives running."

Reality check: Turning vision into reality is another thing entirely as demand for materials like lithium grows.

  • The authors emphasize the need for permitting law changes to boost U.S. mining and processing. And smart diplomacy is required to diversify mining, refining and processing.

The bottom line: "None of these steps is easy, but all are well within the United States' reach," they write.

2. What they're saying: Oil's October whiplash

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

What to make of oil prices plummeting this week? Goldman Sachs analysts, for one, say it's "transitory," Ben writes.

Catch up fast: Prices continued their slide Thursday, with Brent falling to around $84, a double-digit drop over the last week.

The big picture: One reason for Goldman's view gets to an important phenomenon: tracking gasoline demand, which moves oil markets, is not an exact science.

  • The Goldman note argues that some measures of falling U.S. consumption are "overdone."
  • "[A]lternative measures of demand implied by ethanol blending and from the DoE ('unadjusted demand'), and physical prices suggest demand remains robust," they write.

The intrigue: Elsewhere, despite recession worries, they argue that while "higher rates will likely weigh on GDP and oil demand growth, the soft landing remains on track."

  • Goldman also cites "technical factors," like last week's expiration of the November Brent contract, behind the drop.

What's next: Goldman argues that inventory draws, "robust demand" and OPEC's pricing power together will keep Brent in the $80-$105 range.

Yes, but: Predicting prices is notoriously tough, but other analysts see potential for a rebound after the steep selloff.

  • "The recent correction in oil prices has been too rapid and was largely unwarranted in our view," Barclays' Amarpreet Singh said in a note.
  • "If China's outlook continues to improve, we could easily see a return back to the $90 level," Oanda analyst Edward Moya said in his commodity analysis.
  • He also notes that OPEC+ has worked hard to get oil to $90 and "further bearishness could also trigger further output cuts by OPEC+."

3. Catch up fast on EVs: Charging and Europe

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Hyundai, Kia and Genesis are the latest automakers to adopt Tesla's charging interface, marking the latest dominoes to fall on the widespread acceptance of the tech for North American EVs, Ben writes.

  • Driving the news: The Korean automakers join others including Ford and GM adopting the North American Charging Standard. Newly built vehicles starting in late 2024 will have that port, while the companies also plan to make adapters available for existing cars.
  • Why it matters: The companies — part of the Hyundai Motor Group — emphasized the decision will broaden charging access for drivers of their EVs. "This will double the size of the DC fast charging network available to Hyundai EV customers," the automaker said.
  • The big picture: It's also a big get for Tesla. CNN reports: "Counted together, Hyundai, Kia and Genesis would be the second-best-selling EV manufacturer in the United States after Tesla, according to figures from Kelley Blue Book."

🇪🇺 "General Motors said on Thursday it would start selling all-electric Cadillac vehicles in Switzerland, the first step in a return to European markets since selling off the Opel and Vauxhall brands in 2017," Reuters reports.

4. Rivian's funding plan spooks traders

Data: Yahoo! Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Yahoo! Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

EV startup Rivian announced plans to raise another $1.5 billion via a green bond offering — and its stock dropped almost 23% yesterday, Ben writes.

The big picture: Reuters and CNBC reported the push for more capital from Rivian — which makes pickups and SUVs, and a bespoke delivery van for Amazon — caught investors off guard.

What they're saying: A spokesperson tells Axios via email that "the purpose of this offering, similar to our raise earlier this year, is to de-risk launch of R2 in Georgia," referring to a compact SUV Rivian is planning to launch in 2026.

  • The spokesperson also said that "our primary goal is to maintain a conservative balance sheet."

State of play: Rivian has hardly been immune from struggles facing EV startups, but its most recent production and deliveries report beat expectations.

  • A separate Rivian filing this week lists $9.1B on their balance sheet as of Sept. 30.
  • Rivian believes its existing cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments "will be sufficient to enable us to fund our operations and capital expenditures through 2025."

5. 🛢️ Petro-number of the day: almost $17 billion

That's the value of engineering, procurement and construction contracts that ADNOC, the United Arab Emirates state oil giant, is awarding for a huge offshore natural gas and related onshore carbon storage project.

Bloomberg has more.

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🙏 Thanks to Chris Speckhard and Javier David for edits to today's edition, along with the talented Axios Visuals team.