Good Tuesday morning!
In some running news from America's oil and gas epicenter, runner Molly Huddle broke the American half-marathon record in Houston this weekend. The event is sponsored by oil companies including Chevron and Aramco, the U.S. subsidiary of Saudi Aramco.
Now to more actual energy news: My latest Harder Line column looks at how President Trump's energy agenda is stumbling into 2018. Ben Geman will catch you up on the rest of the news kicking off this short week.
2018 is starting off in a stumble for President Trump’s energy agenda.
Just last week, his Interior secretary triggered bipartisan backlash after a one-off tweet saying he was going to remove Florida from the administration’s offshore oil and gas leasing plan. Separately, an independent federal agency rejected the Energy Department’s plan to help boost economically ailing coal and nuclear plants.
The big picture: Over the past year, Trump’s energy policies have been a relatively reliable source of party and industry unity amid an otherwise divisive agenda on everything from trade to foreign policy. This last week revealed signs of discord here, setting up a rocky beginning to a jam-packed year of energy policy moves.
My thought bubble: These issues actually represent business as usual when it comes to energy and Republican politics. But the Trump administration has pursued these policies in aggressive manners that are unconventional at best and politically transparent at worst.
Drill down for the details in the Axios stream here.
Buzz: Bloomberg reported yesterday that with Brent crude oil prices now around $70 per barrel, some analysts believe that OPEC and Russia may bail on their production-limiting deal earlier than planned.
OPEC president: RBC Capital Markets, in a note Monday, takes OPEC's pulse based on their observations at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi over weekend — an event that included Suhail Al Mazrouei, the UAE energy minister who holds OPEC's rotating presidency this year.
Big picture: This morning The Wall Street Journal published a list of reasons why the oil price rally may not last, including:
Disaster: "An oil spill from an Iranian tanker that sank in the East China Sea is rapidly spreading, officials said Tuesday, alarming environmentalists about the threat to sea and bird life in the waterway," the New York Times reports.
BP oil spill: The company said Tuesday that it will take a $1.7 billion charge in its fourth quarter 2017 financial results for claims associated with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster.
Good read: The Houston Chronicle has a nicely crafted feature about the growing Permian operations of Exxon, Chevron and Shell — and how it contrasts with the swashbuckling history of Texas wildcatting.
New data: Worldwide investment in renewables and "energy-smart" tech — such as efficiency, storage and EVs — rose 3% last year to $333.5 billion, according to data released Tuesday by the firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The expansion of solar power led the way, rising 18%to nearly $161 billion last year, with roughly half of that happening in China. In the U.S., total investment in the technologies ticked up 1% to nearly $60 billion "despite the less friendly tone towards renewables adopted by the Trump administration," BNEF said in a summary.
Why it matters: The $333.5 billion in total investment last year is 7% shy of the record set in 2015, and even that understates the level of activity, chief executive Jon Moore said in a statement alongside the data.
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Speaking of renewables: On Monday, Royal Dutch Shell announced that it's investing $217 million to acquire a 44% stake in the solar power developer and operator Silicon Ranch, which has projects in over a dozen states.
One reason it matters: The company's return to the solar business is part of Shell’s expanding alternative energy investments, although it remains a very small part of the oil-and-gas giant’s overall portfolio.
IEA on the record: This morning, International Energy Agency chief Fatih Birol will appear before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Later today, Birol will present findings from IEA's annual World Energy Outlook at a public event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
FERC: On Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will hold its first public meeting since rejecting Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to ensure higher revenues for coal-fired and nuclear plants in some wholesale power markets.
Climate: Senior scientists from NASA and NOAA will present new data on 2017 temperatures and climate trends during a briefing Thursday.
Nominations: The Senate Energy Committee will hear Thursday from the White House for two major DOE roles:
The North American International Auto Show, better known as the Detroit auto show, is underway.
ICYMI: Ford Motor Co. execs at the Detroit auto show laid out plans over the weekend to boost investment in EVs to reach $11 billion by 2022, a major increase over previously announced plans to spend $4.5 billion by 2020.
The bottom line: The expanded investment is another sign of how the world’s biggest car companies see EVs — which are now a tiny fraction of the global auto fleet — eventually becoming a major market segment.
A test for Ford: The company's sales of pure electric cars to date have lagged behind GM, Nissan and Tesla. Michelle Krebs, a top analyst for AutoTrader, tells Axios that it remains to be seen whether Ford can produce a true rival to GM's Chevy Bolt and its 238-mile range.
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Big picture: Reuters has an informative look at the scope and location of multinational automakers investments in EVs.