In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):
- Donald Trump will meet with Big Oil executives today as the fossil-fuel industry is in tailspin.
- Shell’s offshore wind-to-hydrogen program in the Netherlands will survive the coronavirus.
- Germany is a little too productive with green energy right now, so has to work on its grid.
The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.
Trump’s emergency oil meeting
Donald Trump will be holding a meeting today with US oil executives at the White House. This is in response to plunging prices, overproduction, bankruptcies, and layoffs.
Greg Garland, CEO of refining company Phillips 66 and chairman of the American Petroleum Institute, Occidental Petroleum Corp. CEO Vicki Hollub, Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren, Chevron Corp. CEO Mike Wirth, and Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO Darren Woods are expected to attend.
The apparent goal of the oil executives is to brief Trump of the dire situation in the oil industry and encourage him to push Saudi Arabia to back off increased oil production.
As Electrek reported on March 9, the plunging oil prices occurred because:
Saudi Arabia wanted OPEC and Russia to make oil production cuts to support oil prices in light of the coronavirus outbreak, which has hurt the global economy. But Russia objected, saying everyone can produce whatever they want, so Saudi Arabia jacked up oil production to 2 million barrels per day and discounted its oil prices. Analysts say Saudi Arabia is punishing Russia for abandoning the two countries’ three-year supply pact. The oil market is already saturated.
Saudi Arabia plans to boost its crude output above 10 million barrels per day in April when the pact expires.
Further, the US oil and gas industry has nearly $90 billion of rated debt due in the next four years, according to Moody’s.
Trump said he knows how to solve the Saudi Arabia/Russia problem, but didn’t elaborate on how he’d do that.
Several industry sources said the Department of Energy is expected to finalize a plan that would lease portions of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to the private sector, taking crude off the market. DOE was seeking final approval for the move, which could account for 75 million barrels of oil.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC yesterday that the administration would continue to ask Congress for approval to buy oil from US producers to fill up the [Strategic Petroleum Reserve].
The latter request was denied in the third stimulus package.
Whiting Petroleum Corp., a Denver-based independent oil producer, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Thursday. They won’t be the last.
Big green hydrogen project goes forward
Oil giant Shell, energy network operator Gasunie, and Groningen Seaports are building NortH2, the world’s largest offshore wind farm in the Dutch North Sea to produce green hydrogen. And that project should be fine, despite the coronavirus pandemic, due to its early development stage.
Oil and gas firms could delay other energy transition projects during the oil crisis, but this one is going ahead.
Shell’s spokesman in the Netherlands, Marc Potma, told Recharge [via Upstream]:
Since NortH2 is still in a feasibility study-phase for the remainder of this year, impact [from Covid-19] is limited to none.
Europe’s biggest green hydrogen project will be powered by a 3-4GW offshore wind farm in the North Sea by 2030. It will be expanded by up to 10GW by 2040.
A bit too much green energy for Germany
As Electrek reported yesterday, green energy made up 52% of Germany’s power consumption during the first quarter of 2020.
And that’s a good thing, but there’s a challenge. Germany is generating record amounts of clean energy in the north, but its grid is too weak to transport all the power to load centers in the south, reports Green Tech Media.
The German government is working to strengthen the grid, but there is often local community resistance, so it takes longer to bury the lines underground. The export of German renewable energy is also causing hiccups for the grids of neighbors such as Denmark and the Netherlands.
It’s a good example of why ensuring grids can handle the movement toward green energy is just as important as switching to green energy itself.
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