**The U.S. seized four tankers carrying Iranian gasoline bound for Venezuela in an unprecedented move by the Trump administration that carries the potential to destabilize global oil shipments if Iran retaliates. The tankers were transporting 1.116 million barrels of petroleum, which has now been confiscated after help from “foreign partners,” the Justice Department said in a statement Friday.
** High coronavirus case numbers in several major economies will blunt the recovery of an oil market already beleaguered by low demand, the International Energy Agency said Thursday. In its monthly oil market report, the IEA forecast a sharper contraction in global demand for 2020 for the first time in several months. The agency expects global demand to contract by 8.1 million barrels this year, 140,000 barrels more than in last month’s report.
** The Railroad Commission of Texas issued a total of 351 original drilling permits in July 2020 compared to 912 in July 2019. The July 2020 total includes 286 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, six to re-enter plugged well bores and 40 for re-completions of existing well bores.
** Toyota Motor Corp and Mazda Motor Corp said on Thursday they will invest $2.3 billion in a new joint venture factory in Alabama, $830 million more than announced in their original plan in 2018. Production is expected to start next year building up to 150,000 future Mazda crossover vehicles and 150,000 Toyota sport utility vehicles annually.
** JetBlue announced it has followed through on its commitment to go carbon neutral on all domestic flights. Earlier this year, JetBlue became the first major U.S. airline to commit to this critical and measurable step toward reducing its contribution to global warming, and is now the first U.S. airline to achieve carbon neutrality on all domestic flying.
** German automaker Daimler agrees to pay $2.2 billion to settle accusations that some of its cars and vans sold in the U.S. were programmed to cheat on emissions tests.
** As the coronavirus pandemic devastates Texas’s already struggling oil and gas industry, solar energy is on a trajectory for record growth.
** Louisiana is getting another $205 million in BP oil spill money to restore its coast.
** U.S. Attorney General William Barr says he will be “taking a look” at the Federal Trade Commissions rejection of a joint venture between two of Wyoming’s largest coal operators.
** The Interior Department is expected to approve a plan by ConocoPhillips to develop federal oil leases in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska despite a push by critics to halt the permitting process until the pandemic passes.
** A youth-led effort called Change The Chamber is urging major companies to lobby the politically powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce to change its stance on climate change or else risk “your future market.”
** The developer of the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska is asking the Inspectors General of the Defense Department, Army and Army Corps of Engineers to take House Democrats up on their request for a probe of the Army Corps’ review of the proposed copper and gold mine.
** Konrad Steffen, the renowned researcher who sounded the alarm on Greenland Ice and rising sea levels has died after falling into the kind of crevasse he said was created by global warming. Steffen was 68.
** While other countries such as Taiwan and Brazil announced major energy projects during the first half of 2020, the U.S. is one of a handful of countries where COVID-19 has caused a major decline in energy industry activity, according to two independent reports.
** The Permian Basin leads U.S. shale plays as frac fleet count inches upward. The number of hydraulic fracturing crews returning to work inched upward in July with the Permian Basin of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico accounting for most of the growth.
** New York regulators fine two utilities a record $10.75 million for inadequate responses to winter storms in 2018. Slow responses to restore power after Tropical Storm Isaias revives talk of revoking utility franchises, but the process is long and complicated.
** Whiting Petroleum Corporation announced the expected appointment of Lynn Peterson, a 40-year oil and gas industry veteran, as Chief Executive Officer, effective as of the company’s anticipated emergence from chapter 11, which is projected to occur on September 1, 2020. Peterson succeeds Bradley J. Holly, who will resign effective at that time to pursue other interests following the company’s restructuring. Peterson will also join the Company’s Board of Directors.