Good morning and welcome back!
Today marks the 35th anniversary of the Journey album Frontiers, so needless to say this classic song and its fantastic, super-80's video provide today's intro . . .
My Axios colleague Amy Harder reports...
Travis Fisher, a political appointee at the Energy Department who oversaw a high-profile electricity study, is leaving the agency, according to an administration official.
Why it matters: Departures of top advisers always matter. And in this case Fisher’s time at the agency was marked by controversy surrounding Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s divisive proposal to boost economically struggling coal and nuclear power plants.
Drilling down: Fisher oversaw a study Perry requested last year that found market dynamics — namely, cheap natural gas and renewables — were making nuclear power and coal plants less economically viable.
The intrigue: Many observers had questioned why the staff report differed so much from what Perry ultimately asked FERC to issue. Fisher’s departure from the department is at least partly due to these differences in policy positions, according to a person familiar with the dynamics.
Still worried: International Energy Agency executive director Fatih Birol tells Bloomberg TV that despite the growing U.S. oil surge, he's concerned about inadequate global crude supplies down the road.
“We may well see some challenge in the next few years to come in terms of the oil market stability.”
“When you look at four or five years from now, we may have some challenges with supply and demand meeting each other.”
View from OPEC: An in-depth piece in S&P Global Platts says cartel discussions about the future of its alliance with Russia are looking at how to ensure adequate future supplies (even as they're working to clear the current glut). From the story:
Opposing forces: A note yesterday from Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts explains the opposing forces that will influence prices in coming years — and describes why factors that could push them higher could win out.
A presentation at the big International Petroleum Week conference in London today explores some of the topics in the item above. It takes stock of how geopolitical flashpoints in the Middle East and North Africa could affect markets in the years ahead.
The big picture: There has been a "general deterioration" in the geopolitical backdrop, but right now it's having only a minor effect on oil-and-gas markets, according to Bassam Fattouh, director of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
One interesting point: Fattouh's presentation notes how the increasing prominence of non-state actors and local power centers, and the weakening of central state government institutions in some countries, are changing how the industry must do business on the ground.
Sign of the times: The Energy Information Administration published a helpful summary of the combined effect of several bills enacted in recent years — including the recent Capitol Hill spending deal — that raise money via sales from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
New inquiry: House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) has written a letter to Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt, seeking answers about his frequent first-class travel that has been publicly scrutinized, the Washington Examiner reports.
Taking to the skies: A newly published Interior Department report says the agency's fleet of 312 unmanned aircraft tallied a total of 4,976 flights in fiscal 2017.
Why it matters: The report shows how use of drone technology is expanding within federal natural resource management. And an Interior aide tells Axios it could spread to more energy applications:
“[A] few of our bureaus (Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement) have each mentioned the possibility of using this technology in this area (e.g. land/marine mammal surveys ahead of leasing decisions, possible use in platform/rig inspections, etc.) as future desired mission applications.”— Genevieve Giaccardo, communication program lead in Office of Wildland Fire
A few new energy-related filings have popped up in the Lobbying Disclosure Act database...
Ethanol: The Nebraska-based Green Plains has registered to lobby and has brought on Devin Mogler, who until December was an aide to Iowa GOP Sen. Joni Ernst.
Solar: Enphase Energy has tapped Sidley Austin in order to seek exclusion from new solar panel import tariffs, a newly posted filing shows.
Oil-and-gas: A few new filings . . .
Hydropower: Cube Hydro Partners has brought on Van Ness Feldman.