Good morning, and welcome back to another Monday. My latest Harder Line column is my last dispatch from Australia, where I delve into the technology considered essential to really unlock wind and solar.
I'll share a glimpse of that, and then Ben Geman will you get up to speed on the rest of today's news.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
SYDNEY, Australia — Technologies are proliferating here to enable renewables to provide energy long after the wind stopped blowing or the sun stopped shining.
Why it matters: Figuring out a way to store energy is essential to getting huge amounts of electricity from wind and solar — a goal of the backers of the Green New Deal and a critical piece of the broader puzzle for tackling climate change.
Driving the news: Australia’s current political leadership, whose positions are similar to American conservatives, earlier this year backed a project that would pump huge amounts of water up a hill to use as a backup energy option.
Meanwhile, Tesla is testing technologies here after building the world’s largest battery 2 years ago to address regional blackouts in South Australia. That feat was accomplished in less than 100 days at the tweet order of CEO Elon Musk.
“Australia presents opportunities to model out what the future is going to look like because it has high amounts of solar and gives us a chance to show what storage can do at those high levels of penetration.”— Lara Olsen, Tesla executive on energy storage
The big picture: About two-thirds of the world’s electricity is from steady power from fossil fuels, led by natural gas and coal. That is changing as costs for wind and solar fall. In some places, like the U.S. and Australia, these resources are replacing fossil fuels.
Where it stands: Australia doesn’t have a lot of flexible natural gas electricity, like America does, but wind and solar are rapidly increasing here. That creates opportunities — and challenges — to integrate the variable resources into a power system dominated by coal.
What they're saying: “The good thing about batteries is you can deploy them tactically in any location and at very small scale,” former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a recent interview.
Anadarko Petroleum on Monday indicated that it may leave Chevron at the altar, and go with Occidental Petroleum's higher acquisition bid.
Why it matters: The multibillion dollar battle highlights how keen oil heavyweights are to bolster their position in booming Permian Basin, the lucrative shale region in Texas and New Mexico where all 3 companies are active.
Where it stands: Anadarko said in a statement Monday morning...
"Anadarko is resuming its earlier negotiations with Occidental because Anadarko's board of directors, following consultation with its financial and legal advisors, has unanimously determined that the Occidental Proposal could reasonably be expected to result in a 'Superior Proposal' as defined in the Chevron Merger Agreement."
But, but, but: The new twist doesn't necessarily mean that Anadarko is going with Occidental. In addition to dollars, companies consider such factors as likelihood of a deal to close.
The other side: Chevron said in a statement Monday morning: “We believe our signed agreement with Anadarko provides the best value and the most certainty to Anadarko’s shareholders.”
Flashback: On April 12, Chevron and Anadarko announced a $33 billion transaction at $65-per-share, mostly in stock. Occidental offered $76-per-share last week at an even stock/cash split.
Congress: The House will vote this week on Democratic legislation that would prevent the U.S. from abandoning the Paris climate agreement.
Business: BP reports Q1 earnings tomorrow and Royal Dutch Shell follows suit on Thursday.
Oil companies risk over-investing in their traditional business lines as governments' emissions policies grow stricter and shareholders demand tougher steps on climate, a new Boston Consulting Group analysis finds.
Why it matters: It adds to a growing body of literature on the perils — and opportunities — facing the industry as fossil fuels remain dominant but there's growing pressure to accelerate the transition to low-carbon sources.
The big picture: The report recommends that companies adopt flexible and multi-pronged strategies to navigate uncertainty, including...
Threat level: One interesting part compares near-term production growth plans of 8 multinational oil giants to the International Energy Agency's core oil-and-gas demand growth forecast (check out the chart above).
If there's a glut, companies face the "dual risk" of weak prices and stronger odds that policymakers push for a faster transition to cleaner fuels.
A mysterious episode in petro-diplomacy occurred since our last edition.
Driving the news: Trump, while talking up the economy on Friday, told reporters (emphasis added)...
But, but, but: The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump hasn't spoken with OPEC's secretary general or the oil minister with Saudi Arabia, OPEC's most powerful producer.
The intrigue: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, said in a statement Saturday, "The White House is in regular contact with the world’s leading energy producing nations, including OPEC members." She added...
"As recently as last week, White House officials met with a delegation from the Saudi Ministry of Energy, which included high-level representatives to OPEC, in Washington to discuss global oil markets and to ensure global demand is met after all Iranian oil is removed from the market."
Where it stands: Oil prices are heading downward on Monday after dropping by roughly 3% on Friday, a stark contrast to the price spike that followed last Monday's announcement of tighter sanctions against Iran.
The big picture: Trump has often prodded OPEC via Twitter to argue for lower oil prices.
Sen. Richard Lugar in 2005. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Former Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), a foreign policy expert who was a prominent voice on energy, passed away at the age of 87 on Sunday.
Lugar advocated for energy policy to play a greater role in U.S. statecraft and highlighted geopolitical risks and opportunities, for instance focusing on projects designed to counter the influence of Russian gas in Europe.
One key piece of his work, however, remains unfinished. Lugar co-authored the Dodd-Frank section requiring oil and mining companies to disclose their payments to foreign governments in filings with securities regulators.
But, but, but: Oil companies including Exxon and industry lobbying groups spent years battling the provision. In 2017, the GOP-led Congress passed and Trump signed a bill nullifying SEC regulations on the matter.