It's Sting's birthday, which is reason enough to give The Police today's intro tune . . .
Oil prices are trading around their highest levels since late 2014 and have clearly abandoned — at least for now — the $70–$80 neighborhood where Brent lurched around in the spring and summer.
Where it stands: Brent crude slipped back a bit to around $84.61 while U.S. benchmark WTI trades around $75.31, as of publication this morning.
The big picture: The recent surge thanks to looming U.S. sanctions against Iran, Venezuela's ongoing decline and other forces is reviving talk among analysts in recent days of oil hitting $100 in the coming months.
Why it matters: Prices going a lot higher could create global economic headwinds and hit consumers and oil-reliant industries, even as it boosts revenues for oil producing states.
What's next: If the trajectory stays upward in coming weeks, it could create political headwinds for Republicans and tempt the White House to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
But, but, but: A Barclays research note this morning suggests that maybe everyone should just chill out.
Axios' Amy Harder reports ... The chief technology officer of Saudi Aramco, Ahmad Al-Khowaiter, sat down with Axios on the sidelines of a recent conference in New York to discuss what Aramco is doing to develop more sustainable resources.
Al-Khowaiter runs the growing tech work inside Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company, which pumps more oil out of the ground than any other oil company in the world. He pointed out three actions Aramco is doing:
1. His company spends between one-quarter to one-third of its R&D spending — about $200 million annually — on sustainability efforts, which includes tech making oil cleaner. (This is separate from the company's budget to clean up its operations).
Al-Khowaiter says he spends half his time on the issue, because it requires greater strategic thinking than the tech that finds and extracts oil. Plus, it's more fun, he adds.
“It's, for me, personally exciting. ... There’s more value to be generated by solving these challenges.”
2. In the world’s overarching energy transition — from older tech and dirtier resources to newer tech and cleaner resources — Al-Khowaiter says it’ll be companies like Aramco that ultimately lead that change.
He differentiates between primary-energy companies that actually produce energy — like Aramco — and technology companies like Tesla and its electric vehicles, which make use of whatever energy is present.
“Tesla is basically a coal-powered battery electric vehicle in many countries, in China at least. Even in the U.S., there is a lot of coal still. It’s the primary source of energy that needs to transition. It’s not the use of it.”
3. Al-Khowaiter was in New York to participate in the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative’s annual stakeholder meeting, the nascent consortium targeting areas like carbon-capture technologies. The group has to be careful about competitiveness and antitrust issues, he says.
Go deeper: Read Amy's full story in the Axios stream.
The boom-let is over. Former Vice President Al Gore is not interested in replacing Elon Musk as Tesla's board chairman.
"Mr. Gore is a big fan of Tesla and of Elon Musk, but he has a full plate of responsibilities and is not considering taking on any new roles."— Nick Conger, spokesperson for Gore, tells Axios
Why it matters: Musk is stepping down as chairman under his settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Al Gore, currently on Apple’s board, could be an interesting fit given his interest in climate change.
Meanwhile, Tesla's shares shot up 17% yesterday. The market is responding to the quick SEC settlement, Musk's weekend email to staff suggesting they're on the cusp of being profitable, and reports of strong Q3 vehicle production and deliveries.
Royal Dutch Shell and partners announced Tuesday that they're moving ahead with a roughly $30 billion liquefied natural gas project in British Columbia that's aimed at serving growing Asian markets.
"Today’s announcement by LNG Canada represents the single largest private sector investment project in Canadian history."— Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, via statement
The big picture: Shell said Tuesday that there's a strong business case for the project.
The details: Shell has a 40% stake in the project. The other partners in the LNG Canada joint venture are Malaysia's Petronas, PetroChina, Mitsubishi and Korea Gas.
Go deeper: The Vancouver Sun has much more here.
Chevron's new move with ExxonMobil to join the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative has me wondering what's next for Chevron on climate under new CEO Mike Wirth.
Why it matters: Exxon and Chevron are the two largest and most powerful U.S.-based multinational oil giants.
The big question: Will Chevron go along with the other steps its Big Oil peers have already taken in recent months and years?
Where it stands: "Right now I can confirm we are a member of ALEC," a Chevron spokesperson said, while declining to say if the company intended to renew their membership.
My thought bubble: Ok that may sound like a hair-splitting query. But it's worth noting that when Exxon, Shell and BP bailed, they all framed it as a decision not to re-up their membership, as opposed to just dropping the mic.
Another question is whether Chevron might join founding corporate members Exxon, BP, Shell and Total in the Climate Leadership Council (CLC), a group that's pushing for a carbon tax that would be married with paring back climate-related regulations.
Breaking: Per Reuters, "Denmark has proposed a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 and hybrid from 2035, joining international efforts to promote electric-only vehicles to reduce air pollution and combat climate change."
Politics: NYT reports that global warming is not a hot topic in the midterm elections, despite a summer of brutal weather extremes.
Electric vehicles: Per AP, "All-electric vehicles with zero local emissions are among the stars of the Paris auto show, rubbing shoulders with the fossil-fuel burning SUVs that many car buyers love."
Saudi solar: Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund is pushing back against a story in the WSJ that said the kingdom has shelved plans for a massive solar project with Japan's SoftBank Group. Bloomberg has more.