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Expand chart
Data: Rystad Energy ECube; Chart: Axios Visuals

The oil industry is finding lots of hydrocarbons thus far in 2019, putting discoveries on pace to grow by 30% this year if they keep it up, the consultancy Rystad Energy said this week.

Why it matters: The finds by big players like ExxonMobil and Total are a sign of ample new supplies that could come online in coming years, which is likely to further ease concerns about a crude supply crunch down the road.

  • It also signals why OPEC will face ongoing challenges in the years ahead in their quest to keep markets tight and prop up prices.

By the numbers: First-quarter discoveries of conventional oil and gas, which excludes shale, were 3.2 billion barrels oil-equivalent.

  • Much of that came in February, when the 2.2 billion barrels of discoveries marked the highest monthly total since mid-2015, Rystad said in a short note.

What's next: "[T]he push for substantial new discoveries shows no signs of slowing down, with another 35 high impact exploration wells expected to be drilled this year, both onshore and offshore," Rystad wrote.

Quick take: The big finds are another sign that fears of a crude supply crunch opening up by the early 2020s likely won't come to pass.

  • Some analysts feared a precarious situation emerging because spending on finding and developing new supplies cratered around 2014.
  • But 2019 is set to be the third straight year of upstream investment increases, per the International Energy Agency.
  • Bigger-than-expected U.S. shale growth has also eased concerns.

But, but, but: "Forecasts of a supply gap persist, but they’re being pushed further out into the future," Bloomberg reported in late January, and IEA has warned against complacency.

Go deeper

Updated 23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump grants flurry of last-minute pardons

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty

President Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 individuals early Wednesday, 11 hours from leaving office.

Why it matters: It's a last-minute gift to some of the president's loyalists and an evident use of executive power with only hours left of his presidency. Axios reported in December that Trump planned to grant pardons to "every person who ever talked to me."

Trump revokes ethics order barring former aides from lobbying

Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty

Shortly after pardoning members of Congress and lobbyists convicted on corruption charges, President Trump revoked an executive order barring former officials from lobbying for five years after leaving his administration.

Why it matters: The order, which was signed eight days after he took office, was an attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to "drain the swamp."

  • But with less than 12 hours left in office, Trump has now removed those limitations on his own aides.

Trump pardons former fundraiser Elliott Broidy

President Trump has pardoned Elliott Broidy, a former top Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty late last year to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws as part of a campaign to sway the administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.

Why it matters: Broidy was a deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee early in Trump’s presidency, and attempted to leverage his influence in the Trump administration on behalf of his clients. The president's decision to pardon Broidy represents one last favor for a prominent political ally.

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