Good morning and welcome back.
Situational awareness: We're pretty worried about Hurricane Florence arriving at the doorstep of the Carolinas. Check out the Axios stream for updates on the storm and info on why it's so dangerous. The Weather Channel has a guide to providing aid to those affected here.
Finally, at this moment in 1985, the Dire Straits was midway through a deservedly long run atop the Billboard album charts with "Brothers in Arms," providing today's intro tune...
The International Energy Agency said Thursday that the global crude market is entering a "very crucial period" as U.S. sanctions against Iran loom and the country's exports have already dropped. Oh, and Venezuela is still collapsing.
The big picture: There's certainly enough crude from elsewhere sloshing around right now.
Yes, but: The Paris-based agency still sees the market "tightening up." And there are uncertainties about where additional barrels will come from if Venezuela and Iranian supplies keep falling as expected.
The bottom line: Things could get rocky and oil prices, which for Brent have been in the $70–$80 range since April, could be "tested." IEA states:
The situation in Venezuela could deteriorate even faster, strife could return to Libya and the 53 days to 4 November will reveal more decisions taken by countries and companies with respect to Iranian oil purchases. It remains to be seen if other producers decide to increase their production.
State of the market: Traders seem to be responding to the currently robust supply picture. Per MarketWatch:
Oil futures fell in early Thursday trade as a report showed production among OPEC members surged in August, pushing global inventories to a record.
Go deeper: Reuters breaks down the IEA report in detail here.
Situational awareness: "Duke Energy said Wednesday it expects between 1 million and 3 million of its customers in the Carolinas will lose power because of Hurricane Florence and its aftermath," the Charlotte Observer reports.
And via the Washington Post: "Federal officials warned that the millions of people in Florence’s sights could be without electricity for weeks, if high winds down power lines and massive rainfall floods equipment."
Axios' Amy Harder reports ... Several nuclear power plants in North Carolina and nearby states are bracing for the storm, including a plant right in its path with the same design as the Japanese reactors that melted down in 2011 when a tsunami knocked out backup power.
Why it matters: While the probability is very low, the risk of a storm-fueled accident at a nuclear plant could be devastating and threaten the health of tens of thousands of people living nearby.
Between the lines: All kinds of energy production and generation get attention only when things could go wrong or have gone wrong — but particularly nuclear given its controversial reputation.
It’s worth pointing out that nuclear plants have "consistently proven hardy against hurricanes," according to an in-depth News & Observer piece published Wednesday.
Go deeper: Read Amy's full piece in the Axios stream.
Screenshot of EIA report on crude oil production estimates
It happened! Preliminary data show that the U.S. likely overtook Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world's largest crude oil producer this year, the Energy Information Administration said in a short report.
Why it matters: While analysts have been expecting this moment, it's nonetheless a threshold that starkly signals the remarkable shale-driven U.S. production boom over the last decade.
Yes, but: Remember the Saudis have significant spare production capacity (the International Energy Agency pegs it at roughly 1.5 million bpd), so production levels should not be confused with what a country could pump.
The details: In June and last month, U.S. production exceeded Russian output for the first time since 1999, according to EIA, while the U.S. overtook the Saudis early this year for the first time in over two decades.
Two items from the continent offer contrasting views on two different types of renewables...
Wind: The trade group WindEurope said Thursday in a new report that 87 gigawatts of new wind power capacity is slated to be installed there over the next five years, with the continent reaching 258 gigawatts of installed capacity by 2022.
Biomass: A new paper argues that the European Union's 2030 renewables targets aimed at increasing deployment could actually be a setback for climate policy, thanks to way that biomass is credited.
U.S. solar growth slowed down last quarter as the effects of import tariffs ripple through the market, but there are signs of a "turnaround" as well, according to a new industry report.
Why it matters: It provides a snapshot of how the solar market is responding to tariffs on panel imports that the White House imposed earlier this year.
By the numbers: The 2.3 gigawatts of new capacity installed in the June–August stretch was a 9% year-over-year decrease, according to data jointly released by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industries Association.
What's next: "Looking ahead though, the report forecasts an acceleration of solar deployment in the second half of 2018 driven by utility-scale projects. According to the report, 8.5 gigawatts of utility PV projects were procured in the first six months of the year, the most ever procured in that timeframe," a summary of the data states.
Saudi Arabia: Via Bloomberg, the Saudis have tapped former Solicitor General Ted Olson to lobby against longshot legislation that would go after OPEC with U.S. anti-trust laws.
Climate change: Per the Wall Street Journal, "New York City will invest $4 billion of its pension funds into climate-change solutions like renewable energy and clean water over the next three years, more than doubling its current investment, according to city officials."
Electric vehicles: The Guardian looks at one of the announcements at the big Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.
Energy expert Michael Webber of UT-Austin has launched the "Today in Energy History" Twitter feed. It's designed to be a wide-ranging look at the topic, and already...
What they're saying: "There is a thriving #EnergyTwitter community online, we wanted to find a way to contribute on a regular basis," Webber said in an email.
"There are various influential dates in history that are important to the energy world. We wanted to provide a platform that consolidated these facts in a fun, convenient, way that served as a medium to learn about energy history."