Editors: Tom Whipple, Steve Andrews

Quote of the Week

“If [OPEC+] decides to rein in production to protect commodity prices, momentum in the offshore market could continue. If not, the offshore renaissance party seems destined to come to an end in 2022.” 

Consulting and research firm Rystad Energy

Graphic of the Week

(This graph prepared by Dennis Coyne for Peak Oil Barrel shows that the optimistic estimates that the EIA has been making in its monthly Drilling Productivity Report  have been corrected downwards after the actual production numbers become available several weeks later.)

1.  Oil and the Global Economy
2.  The Middle East & North Africa
3.  China
4. Russia
5. Venezuela
6. The Briefs

1.  Oil and the Global Economy

Oil prices plunged on Friday with New York futures falling about $5 a barrel. Precipitating the fall were concerns that there is no end in sight to the US-China trade war and that the global economy could slow by enough to affect oil demand.  Prices rebounded about 1 percent on Friday but closed out the week at $58.62 in New York and $68.20 in London for their biggest weekly drop of the year.  US crude oil inventories rose by 4.7 million barrels the week before last, hitting their highest levels since July 2017, mainly due to abnormally low refinery runs (89.9 percent of capacity) for this time of the year.
The plunge in prices and the stockpile build undercuts the rationale for OPEC+ to increase production. “It is reasonable to doubt whether Saudi Arabia will be willing to step up its output given the latest decline in prices,” analysts at Commerzbank said.  Demand for oil products in China is showing weakness.  Gasoline inventories in Shandong province have surged to their highest level since 2011.
US manufacturing growth is at its lowest reading in nearly a decade, a sign that the trade war may be impacting the economy.  The IHS Markit Purchasing Managers Index declined to 50.6 in May, the lowest level since September 2009. 
Oil price volatility has been rather low of late with Brent stuck in a narrow range of $70 to $75 per barrel for more than a month. Given plunging Venezuelan crude production, tensions in the Middle East and the threat of a significant outage in Libya, prices seem ready for more volatility unless the trade war turns into a recession.
The OPEC Production Cut: Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said after a “technical meeting” on Sunday, May 19th there was a consensus among OPEC and allied oil producers to drive down crude inventories “gently.” Falih said a possible rollover in the second half of 2019 of output curbs agreed to by OPEC and non-members was the primary option discussed at a ministerial panel meeting during the day but “things can change by June,” yet he still sees a world awash in crude.
During the week, the price drop and the unexpected build in US inventories were enough to reinforce the Saudi view. It was less clear how far Russia, the Saudis’ leading partner in the OPEC+ coalition, shares this view.  While most nations at a meeting last week supported extending production cuts to the end of 2019, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak talked about potentially relaxing the curbs and wanted to wait and see what happens in the next month.
US Shale Oil Production:  As has been apparent for some time now, the future of the global oil industry seems to be coming down to the issue of how much and how fast Permian Basin can grow its oil production in the next few years. The Basin is currently producing some 4.1 million b/d which accounts for about one-third of the total US crude output and about one-half of the current US shale oil production of 8.4 million b/d.
The EIA is currently forecasting that production from the Permian Basin will increase by 56,000 b/d in June 2019 or more than two-thirds of the 83,000 b/d increase that is forecast to take place in the seven major US shale oil basins.  Except for the Permian, the other US basins have seen little growth lately.  North Dakota’s Bakken, which had a rough winter, produced 1.39 million b/d in March, which was lower than the 1.40 in produced in January.  The EIA is looking for only a 15,000 b/d increase next month in the Bakken.  Recently enacted drilling restrictions in Colorado’s Niobrara shale suggest that it will be a challenge to grow shale oil production in that Basin. 
Rystad Energy has analyzed the first quarter results of around 50 US shale operators. The results indicate that US producers, on average, saw a slowdown in oil production growth in the first quarter with production up only 0.1 percent. The small increase forced the EIA to revise its optimistic forecasts of monthly production after actual production figures were analyzed.
Denis Coyne who produced the chart above as Graphic of the Week notes that shale oil production seems to have increased little since late last year and if the trend continues, we might be seeing only modest growth in US shale oil production this year.  He estimates that the increase in US shale oil production might be on the order of only 300,000-500,000 b/d this year or less than half what the EIA is forecasting.
The EIA and industry forecasters such as Rystad Energy, however, remain optimistic that the shale oil producers will be able to produce so much oil during the last three quarters that the US will produce some 1.1-1.2 million b/d more shale during 2019 than last year.  
Rystad Energy says that “despite temporary challenges faced at the beginning of the year, E&P companies are set to deliver on their original production and capital targets, with some being well positioned to perform above initial expectations.  US shale players can still be expected to deliver around 16% oil growth in 2019.  Several operators have raised their production guidance for the remainder of the year.”
Amidst the government’s and the industry’s optimism, some are calling for caution and saying that shale oil production could slow considerably this year.  Schlumberger, the world’s biggest oilfield services provider, cited “higher cost of capital, lower borrowing capacity, and investors looking for increased returns” as the primary reasons for an expected 10-percent drop in E&P investments in North America’s onshore oil production this year.
There is always the issue of the profitability of the shale oil industry, which has lost tens of billions of dollars during the last decade.  While the number of North American oil and gas producer bankruptcies has dropped significantly over the past three years, from more than 100 in 2015-2016 to 29 in 2018 and six as of May 1, 2019, they are still occurring. Weatherford International, which was one of the top oilfield services providers until recently, expects to file Chapter 11 soon.
The majority of US shale companies were hit hard by lower oil prices in the first quarter, and many suffered negative free cash flows in the period reinforcing the principle that Wall Street will not finance losing companies forever.  We know from the recent Post Carbon Institute report that the “new technology” being applied to shale oil drilling simply gets the oil out quicker but probably does not increase the amount of oil that comes from a given piece of ground.
The bottom line: while some are saying that US shale oil has a bright future with production lasting for decades, some believe that signs are pointing to a peak in production in the next few years.

2.  The Middle East & North Africa

Iran: The war of words between Washington and Tehran continued last week as the American economic pressures on Iran continue to build.  Iran will not surrender to US pressure and will not abandon its goals even if it is bombed, President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday.  Earlier in the day, Iran’s top military chief said the standoff between Tehran and Washington was a “clash of wills”, warning that any enemy “adventurism” would meet a crushing response.
India has officially ended all oil imports from Iran according to India’s Ambassador Shringla, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi emerged victorious from India’s elections.  Shringla would not say whether India agreed with the United States’ stance on the sanctions but did say that the sanctions have hurt India, which relies on Iran in particular for a sizeable share of its crude oil imports.
Iran is attempting to store its un-exportable oil on land and at sea as the US sanctions on exports bite and Tehran battles to keep its aging fields operational.  It is vital for Tehran to keep oil flowing as any disruption would damage its future production due to the high costs and complexities of restarting shut-in wells.  Tehran has made a dramatic shift in how it confronts the US by abandoning a policy of restraint in recent weeks and has announced various offensive actions aimed at pushing the White House to rethink its strategy of trying to starve Iran into changing its policies or perhaps changing its form of government.
The Iranians now are seeking to highlight the costs it could impose on the United States — such as disrupting the world’s oil supply — without taking actions likely to trigger a war.  When four ships were damaged in the Persian Gulf two weeks ago, US officials said they suspected Iran had ordered the attacks.
With Iran making noises about closing the Straits of Hormuz, thereby cutting off some 18 million b/d of oil exports and bringing the global economy to its knees, other exporters who use the Gulf are looking for alternative ways to export oil.  The Saudis already have a 5 million b/d pipeline from their east coast oil fields over to the Red Sea, but this is inadequate for carrying the quantity of oil passing through Hormuz every day.  
Qatar and Kuwait have approached Iraq, proposing to use it “as an alternative path for oil transport” should the need arise.  Iraqi Prime Minster Abdul-Mahdi suggested that it would be possible to move Iraqi oil through the Kurdistan region to the Port of Ceyhan in Turkey.  However, there is not a pipeline between southern Iraq and the Kirkuk oil fields that exports through Kurdistan.  In the 1930s a pipeline was built between Kirkuk and Haifa in Israel and to Lebanon but was closed after the outbreak of the Arab-Israeli War in 1948.

Iraq: Baghdad will raise the oil production from its giant West Qurna 1 field by as much as 50,000 b/d, a senior industry official told Reuters on Wednesday, days after the oil field developer ExxonMobil evacuated all its foreign staff from the field.  Currently, the West Qurna 1 oil field pumps around 440,000 b/d, while Iraq intends to increase that production to 490,000 b/d within days.
The move comes after Exxon removed 60 workers from the West Qurna 1 project and sent them to Dubai.  The Iraqis say the move was unnecessary and that Washington is overblowing the Iranian threat. “We have no indication over any dangers, and the situation is secure and very stable at the oilfield which is running at full capacity,” Hasan Abdul Jabbar of Iraq’s South Oil Company told Reuters.
The Exxon evacuation prompted even more problems.  An important oil deal between Iraq and Exxon was “very close” but had been slowed by Exxon’s decision on Saturday to evacuate its international staff.  

Saudi Arabia: While the world waits to see if the OPEC+ production cut will continue in the 2nd half of the year, Saudi Aramco signed a 20-year agreement to buy liquefied natural gas from an export terminal in Texas that U.S.-based Sempra Energy is developing.  Aramco plans to become a significant global gas player, and this deal will provide it with access to some of the world’s cheapest natural gas from the US shale boom.  
The deal is part of a $160 billion plan to build up its gas assets, as the kingdom’s demand for new energy is projected to soar.  Saudi Arabia foresees a natural-gas empire that fuels new cities and helps develop local industries in manufacturing, mining, and technology. The kingdom produces enough crude oil now to meet electricity demands, but Saudi leaders are trying to stop burning petroleum to create power, which is a waste of a valuable commodity.  The kingdom is the largest user of crude oil in the Middle East for generating electricity, potentially reducing its spare capacity during the summer when demand for air conditioning and seawater desalination peaks.
The Houthi rebels in Yemen said that the attack on an Aramco oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia was the start of military operations against some 300 vital military targets in the Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates such as military headquarters and facilities in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia, as well as their bases in Yemen.

Libya: The UN’s envoy to Libya bitterly denounced the conflict raging south of Tripoli, describing it as a “suicide” that was robbing its inhabitants of its oil riches.  The country has become “a textbook example of foreign interference today in local conflicts,” Ghassan Salame told the New York-based International Peace Institute on Wednesday.  “Between six and ten countries are permanently interfering in Libya’s problem,” funneling arms, cash and military advice to the country, Salame warned.

Salame also warned the UN Security Council that the ongoing battle for Tripoli launched by the Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar on April 4 was “just the start of a long and bloody war.”  More than 75,000 people have been driven from their homes in the latest fighting and 510 have been killed, according to the World Health Organization.  More than 2,400 people have also been wounded, while 100,000 people are feared trapped by the clashes raging on the outskirts of Tripoli.  Haftar’s plans for a quick victory and the defeat of the government of national accord have been thwarted.

Last week, an armed group stormed a pumping station run by the Great Man-Made River Co. south of Tripoli, forcing employees to shut down water pipes connected to underground wells.  The pumping station supplies water to the 2 million inhabitants of Tripoli and other coastal areas.  Two days later the water was restored, averting shortages that could have caused a humanitarian crisis.

The episode may rebound badly on Haftar as he seeks to persuade the international community that he can be the upholder of security against the criminal militias.  It will also add to the sense that the siege is increasing lawlessness in Libya that other actors, including the Islamic State, are beginning to exploit.  There have been a number of Isis hit-and-run attacks in the past month, mainly in the south of the country.

3.  China

The next round of US tariffs, this time on $300 billion of Chinese exports, is at least a month away as Washington studies the impact higher prices will have on US consumers.  The trade war has all but shut down shipments of US crude to China, and it is unlikely Chinese buyers will sign long-term offtake agreements with US crude exporters right now.  In the first half of 2018, China was the biggest importer of US crude, averaging 377,000 b/d.  In the six months ended in February, the most recent data available, it has dropped to 41,600 b/d, according to the EIA.

Analysts are saying that “the U.S.-China relationship has moved further off track over the past two weeks after a period of what appeared to be steady progress towards reaching an admittedly narrow agreement.  “We do not think the two sides will be able to get back to where they seemed to be in late April.”

4.  Russia

The contaminated oil in the 1 million b/d Druzhba pipeline from Russia to Europe continued as the major story last week. The pipeline was shut down on April 22nd  after Belarus, the first stop on the pipeline, tried to refine some contaminated crude which did considerable damage to a refinery when the contaminate turned into acid. In addition to halting 1 million b/d of oil flows to refiners in East and West Europe, the Druzhba pipeline was left with about 14 million barrels of contaminated oil sitting inside.

Russia is using rail, storage tanks and ships to remove oil from the Druzhba pipeline and has so far extracted around 2 million tons of the oil – or over a third of 5 million tons or 35 million barrels that were contaminated. This oil is worth some $2.1 billion. The solution to the problem is to mix the contaminated crude with clean oil until the concentration of organics is well below 10 parts per million (ppm). Most European refiners prefer organic chloride contamination to be below 5 ppm to prevent damage to refineries.  Mixing millions of barrels of clean and contaminated oil is a slow process, and it will likely be months before the situation is back to normal.

China may be taking 700,000 tons of contaminated oil.  Beijing has large strategic oil tank farms which could hold contaminated oil until it can be mixed.  If the price is low enough, Beijing would likely be glad to take contaminated oil.

The impact of this situation on Russia is still not clear.  Moscow is losing a lot of money. European buyers are already refusing to pay for contaminated oil pumped into their refineries, and Moscow is taking responsibility for any proven damages.  Given the size of the problem, Russia may be reluctant to go along with any Saudi plan to extend the OPEC+ agreement to the end of the year.

The US is increasing its oil imports from Russia as Gulf Coast refineries need more heavy oil now that Venezuelan supplies have dried up.  US refiners took a total of 5 million barrels of Russian crude so far this month, and these imports expected to increase considerably.  Given that no end to the Venezuelan situation is in sight, the US may be importing heavy Russian oil for a long time.  Heavy oil is necessary to produce the middle distillates such as diesel and jet fuel that cannot be refined economically from very light shale oil.

5.  Venezuela

Shipping data shows that imports of fuel and diluents necessary to make Venezuela’s extra heavy crude refinable have dropped to 86,000 b/d in the first part of May from 225,000 b/d for April.  Fuel rationing is being overseen by the military as shortages begin to bite deeper.  As local crude oil production continues to fall, and refineries operate much below capacity, the lines at gas stations outside of the capital are now miles long.  Last week the long lines appeared in Caracas despite government efforts to keep them out of the capital.   It certainly looks as if Venezuela’s oil production will take another steep drop when the May production statistics become available.

Since the attempted uprising three weeks ago the protests that filled the streets with opposition Guaidó’s supporters are dwindling as Venezuelans, struggling with shortages of food, gasoline, and medication, return to the business of surviving.  Weakened and unable to bring the political crisis gripping Venezuela to a quick resolution, Mr. Guaidó has been forced to consider negotiations with Mr. Maduro.  Both sides have sent representatives to Norway for talks, a concession Mr. Guaidó previously rejected.

Venezuela increased oil supplies to Cuba in May four-fold as US sanctions severely limit exports to other countries.  PDVSA exported 1.416 million barrels of combined crude and products in May to Cuba’s state Cubametales, up from 355,000 barrels in April. Let’s hope the Cubans are paying a fair price for the oil as Venezuela desperately needs the money.

The US told several large traders this week they should stop trading jet fuel with Venezuela or face sanctions.  Calls to large Swiss- and British-based trading houses were made by US State Department officials in a move aimed at restraining commercial and military flights to Venezuela.  The officials told the trading houses that diesel trade with Venezuela is still considered legal for humanitarian reasons.

Three PDVSA tankers that are late with payments to German operator Bernhard Schulte Ship management are being detained.  BSM finally gave up on waiting for payments for operating the ships from the state-run PDVSA.6

6.  The Briefs (date of the article in the Peak Oil News is in parentheses)

Oil profits down 4+ percent: Rising US production weighed on oil prices in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, and those lower prices, combined with weak refining margins, impacted the revenues and net profits of many of the world’s largest listed companies in the oil industry. According  to Q1 2019 reports of the 12 top listed companies in the oil industry—ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Halliburton, Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Eni, Equinor, and Rosneft—the combined net income and revenues at those companies were 4.63 percent lower in the first quarter this year compared to Q1 2018. (5/23)

Offshore growth rate: The annual growth rate in the global offshore oilfield services market will likely be halved after 2022. That’s according to energy research and consultancy company Rystad Energy, which forecasts that the market will slow from seven percent of annual growth per year in 2019-2022 to three percent from 2022-2025—depending on actions by the OPEC+ group. Rystad says more than 100 new offshore projects should proceed this year and an expected $210 billion will be spent on offshore oilfield services globally next year. Oil and gas operators gave the green light to 90-plus offshore projects in 2018, 62 in 2017 and 43 in 2016. (5/22)

BP’s chairman said he recognized that the world’s energy consumption was on “an unsustainable path” and the oil major’s days of chasing ever higher output are coming to an end.  Writing in the Financial Times on Tuesday, Helge Lund acknowledged the need to repurpose BP’s business for a lower-carbon future. However, he did not detail how it would do so and continued to reject investor calls to set hard emissions targets for the use of the fuels it produces. (5/21)

BP shareholders vote, big-time: At BP’s general annual meeting last Tuesday, 99.14 percent of shareholders voted in favor of a climate change shareholder resolution on Tuesday, pushing the UK oil and gas supermajor to set out a business strategy consistent with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. (5/22)

Norway’s crude oil production slipped to 1.38 million b/d in April from 1.387 in March and 1.531 million bpd a year ago, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate reported this week. The trend is a long one and it highlights the challenges one of Europe’s top oil producers faces. Norway has been doing an exemplary job in cutting production costs and boosting efficiencies, especially after the 2014 price collapse that gave a major push to both cost cuts and efficiency improvements across the industry. Yet Equinor and its sector players have had trouble securing long-term supply: new oil and gas discoveries have been few and far between. (5/24)

Nord Stream 2 pushback: US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said on Tuesday that a sanctions bill putting onerous restrictions on companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 project would come in the “not too distant future”. The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project has come under fire from the United States and several eastern European, Nordic and Baltic Sea countries which fear it will increase the European Union’s reliance on Russian gas. (5/21)

In Kazakhstan, France’s oil and gas major Total is looking to sell a third of its 17-percent interest in the giant Kashagan oil field, aiming to raise up to $4 billion from the sale. (5/25)

In Mexico, Pemex expects to add 320,000 b/d from 20 new fields by end of 2021. The company aims to develop 20-40 new fields each of the next few years.  The program will have a major focus exploring southern Mexico’s foothill potential. Pemex hopes to produce 2.48 million b/d on average by 2024, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s last scheduled year in power. The company produced 1.7 million b/d in April, half the volume it produced during 2003 before depletion began at giant offshore complexes like Cantarell. (5/23)

The US oil rig count declined by five to 797, down from 859 oil rigs year-over-year, according to GE’s Baker Hughes.  The gas rig count increased by 1 to 186. (5/25)

In the deepwater GOM, Royal Dutch Shell said on Thursday that it had started oil production at its Appomattox floating production system months ahead of schedule, opening a new frontier in the deepwater US Gulf of Mexico and starting first production ever from a Jurassic reservoir—the Norphlet formation—in the region. Appomattox—operated by Shell with 79 percent with a unit of China’s CNOOC holding 21 percent—is currently expected to produce 175,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d). The Appomattox development and production will be closely followed by industry analysts because it could give indications about other potential reservoirs in the Norphlet. (5/24)

Hurricane season: The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts four to eight hurricanes will develop during this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, including two to four major storms with winds above 111 mph.  As the US becomes a larger oil and gas exporter, the storms pose new risks to global flows, on top of the usual risks to domestic US power demand and fuel supplies. NOAA sees a 40% probability of “near-normal” tropical storm activity during the season, which runs June 1 to November 30. (5/24)

Offshore drilling contractor Seadrill is considering selling non-core assets, including its 15.7% stake in oil service firm Archer, to reduce its liabilities. Seadrill, controlled by Norwegian billionaire John Fredriksen, emerged from US Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings last year, and is betting on the offshore oil market’s recovery to repay its remaining debts and liabilities. (5/24)

Shell Chemical LP will advance feasibility plans to build a $1.2 billion monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant at its Shell Geismar facility in Ascension Parish, La., officials said Monday. (5/22)

In California, market manipulation could be behind the fact that its drivers pay more for gasoline than the rest of the country, the Los Angeles Times reports, citing a statement by the California Energy Commission. The commissions said it has identified several possible reasons, including refinery outages and market manipulation, for the fact that as of Friday, drivers in California paid an average of US$4.05 per gallon of gasoline, which was US$1.20 higher than the national average. (5/21)

More than a dozen states are moving to strengthen environmental protections to combat a range of issues from climate change to water pollution, opening a widening rift between stringent state policies and the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda. In recent months, Hawaii, New York and California have moved to ban a widely used agricultural pesticide linked to neurological problems in children, even as the administration has resisted such restrictions. Michigan and New Jersey are pushing to restrict a ubiquitous class of chemical compounds that have turned up in drinking water, saying they can no longer wait for the EPA to take action. Colorado and New Mexico have adopted new policies targeting greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel drilling and limiting where these operations can take place. (5/20)

“Virtual gas pipeline:” In northern New England, where new gas pipeline infrastructure has either not been allowed or is slow to fill in gaps, compressed natural gas is being delivered by heavy trucks.  In upstate New York, seven such trucks have crashed during the last 18 months.  Activists fear the explosive potential of these events and want the trucking system either more tightly regulated or prohibited. (5/23)

Lubricants from biomass: Lubricants—a more than $146-billion market serving numerous applications, automotive among them—are produced from base oils derived from petroleum mineral oils (mineral base oil) or synthetic oils such as poly-α-olefins (synthetic base oil). As such, lubricants have a significant environmental footprint. A team at the University of Delaware has now synthesized new bio-based base oils with tunable molecular branches and properties at high yields (>80%) from biomass. (5/23)

CO2 extraction from the air: A subsidiary of Occidental and Canadian clean energy company Carbon Engineering are teaming up to build the world’s biggest Direct Air Capture (DAC) and sequestration facility in the Permian that will suck carbon dioxide from the air to be later used in enhanced oil recovery. The CO2 would eventually be stored underground permanently. (5/23)

USPS testing autonomous trucks. A two-week pilot will use big rigs supplied by autonomous trucking firm TuSimple to haul trailers on five round trips between distribution centers. The roughly 22-hour trip along three interstate highways is normally serviced by outside trucking companies that use two-driver teams to comply with federal regulations limiting drivers’ hours behind the wheel—the sweet spot where autonomy will be most valuable, as the vehicle can continue operating. The Postal Service, which has been losing money for several years as letter volume has declined, is trying to restrain operating costs and is seeking ways to cut fuel expenses, improve truck safety and use its fleet more efficiently. (5/22)

The retirement of several nuclear power plants in the Northeast over the next year and a half—two over the next several months—is expected to create an opportunity for additional natural gas-fired power generation. S&P Global Platts Analytics estimates that 16 GW of nuclear generation is at risk of early retirement across the US between today and 2025. Assuming this nuclear generation is replaced by a gas-fired generation with an average heat rate of 7,000 BTU/kWh, an incremental 2.7 Bcf/d of gas demand from power generation would be required to replace these retiring generators. (5/25)

French power prices this summer will be influenced by unprecedented conditions surrounding the availability of the nuclear fleet and low levels of hydro stocks, S&P Global Platts Analytics said in its UK Electricity Short Term Forecast. This made its forecast of French prices largely bullish to the market for the period, weighted in particular to June and July. (5/25)

East coast offshore wind: ISO New England is conducting three economic studies to evaluate the impact of up to 12 GW of offshore wind power on prices, the wholesale market and the transmission system as the US East Coast prepares for an influx of offshore wind power development. (5/24)

Maryland wind: Governor Larry Hogan said Wednesday a clean energy jobs bill that establishes a 50% by 2030 renewable portfolio standard will become law and he announced plans for Maryland to be powered by 100% clean electricity by 2040, a goal that will include offshore wind. (5/24)

US storage growing: US grid-connected energy storage capacity this year is set for a twofold increase to 712 MW from 376 MW last year. What’s more, between 2019 and 2024, storage capacity will soar to almost 5 GW, of which 90 percent will be battery storage, IHS Markit said in a new report. This will make the United States the country with the most energy storage capacity connected to the grid, ahead of the current global leader in this area, South Korea. (5/24)

H2 breakthrough? Hydrogen as a fuel has been drawing a lot of attention ever since the world decided to start weaning itself off fossil fuels. However, after years of research, hydrogen-fueled vehicles remain a niche market due to one main problem: the price of the fuel system. Now, a team of researchers claims they have solved this problem and we could see hydrogen vehicles cheaper than EVs. The team, from Lancaster University, says they had discovered a new material—Kubas manganese Hydride-1—that can make hydrogen fuel tanks for vehicles a lot more compact and cheaper while at the same time increasing their energy density. (5/22)

Greenpeace activists blocked the entrance to BP’s London headquarters last week, demanding one of the world’s biggest energy companies ends all new oil and gas exploration or goes out of business. Greenpeace activists arrived at the building in St James’ Square in central London at 0200 GMT and encased themselves in specially designed containers to block all of the main entrances. A team of activists abseiled from the top of the building and placed huge letters over the windows reading ‘CLIMATE EMERGENCY’. (5/21)