U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm made two big announcements at her CERAWeek address. Photo via Jennifer Granholm/X

The Department of Energy announced two major initiatives at U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm's address earlier this week at CERAWeek by S&P Global.

The first announcement Granholm revealed on Monday, March 18, at her keynote address was the DOE's latest Pathways to Commercial Liftoff report, which are initiatives established to provide investors with information of how specific energy technologies commercialize and what challenges they each have to overcome as they scale.

"We develop these Liftoff Reports through a combination of modeling and hundreds and hundreds of interviews with people across the whole investment lifecycle—from early-stage capital to commercial banks and institutional investors," Granholm says in her address.

The DOE has released eight already, and the ninth — and Granholm's favorite, she says — is on geothermal energy.

"Geothermal has such enormous potential. If we can capture the 'heat beneath our feet,' it can be the clean, reliable, base-load scalable power for everybody from industries to households," she says.

Geothermal development requires similar skills and infrastructure to traditional oil and gas, meaning the transition should be smooth, she explains, adding that the market is huge for geothermal.

"At scale, this market is significant: We're talking about at least—at least—a $250 billion investment opportunity to meet the goal that we have of 90 gigawatts of capacity by 2050," she remarks.

Granholm's address shifted into acknowledging the negative impact on communities the energy industry's history is paved with. She emphasizes how each of the Biden Administration's laws passed — like the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — implemented requirements and incentives with communities in mind.

The administration's next initiative, and Granholm's second big announcement, is "to empower communities to build their energy future."

Regional Energy Democracy Initiative, or REDI, as Granholm describes, will "bring together companies, and community groups, and academic institutions, and philanthropy to weave equity and justice into DOE-funded clean energy projects."

The inaugural pilot will be in the Gulf South across Texas and Louisiana. She says the DOE plans to award over $8 billion to regional carbon reduction and clean energy infrastructure projects.

"These structures will provide capacity building, technical assistance to help communities match their most pressing needs with the biggest opportunities…to design and to implement Community Benefits Plans," Granholm says, "in short, really to have a say in how the historic clean energy investments in their backyards are going to benefit their people."

Granholm also noted on the progress of the clean energy sector, including how clean energy investment is three times what it was in 2018 and that in 2024, wind and solar energy in the U.S. is expected to outpace coal generation for the first time.

All this progress, Granholm explains, in light of global events and global energy supply disruption

"But our work together really has to extend beyond crisis management," she says. "Because the sooner that we acknowledge this transition for what it is—an undeniable, inevitable, and necessary realignment of the world’s energy system—the sooner we can capitalize on this incredible opportunity."

The data shows the biggest leaks are in the Permian basin of Texas and New Mexico. Photo via Getty Images

US energy industry methane emissions are triple what government thinks, study finds

by the numbers

American oil and natural gas wells, pipelines and compressors are spewing three times the amount of the potent heat-trapping gas methane as the government thinks, causing $9.3 billion in yearly climate damage, a new comprehensive study calculates.

But because more than half of these methane emissions are coming from a tiny number of oil and gas sites, 1% or less, this means the problem is both worse than the government thought but also fairly fixable, said the lead author of a study in Wednesday's journal Nature.

The same issue is happening globally. Large methane emissions events around the world detected by satellites grew 50% in 2023 compared to 2022 with more than 5 million metric tons spotted in major fossil fuel leaks, the International Energy Agency reported Wednesday in their Global Methane Tracker 2024. World methane emissions rose slightly in 2023 to 120 million metric tons, the report said.

“This is really an opportunity to cut emissions quite rapidly with targeted efforts at these highest emitting sites,” said lead author Evan Sherwin, an energy and policy analyst at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Lab who wrote the study while at Stanford University. “If we can get this roughly 1% of sites under control, then we're halfway there because that's about half of the emissions in most cases.”

Sherwin said the fugitive emissions come throughout the oil and gas production and delivery system, starting with gas flaring. That's when firms release natural gas to the air or burn it instead of capturing the gas that comes out of energy extraction. There's also substantial leaks throughout the rest of the system, including tanks, compressors and pipelines, he said.

“It's actually straightforward to fix,” Sherwin said.

In general about 3% of the U.S. gas produced goes wasted into the air, compared to the Environmental Protection Agency figures of 1%, the study found. Sherwin said that's a substantial amount, about 6.2 million tons per hour in leaks measured over the daytime. It could be lower at night, but they don't have those measurements.

The study gets that figure using one million anonymized measurements from airplanes that flew over 52% of American oil wells and 29% of gas production and delivery system sites over a decade. Sherwin said the 3% leak figure is the average for the six regions they looked at and they did not calculate a national average.

Methane over a two-decade period traps about 80 times more heat than carbon dioxide, but only lasts in the atmosphere for about a decade instead of hundreds of years like carbon dioxide, according to the EPA.

About 30% of the world's warming since pre-industrial times comes from methane emissions, said IEA energy supply unit head Christophe McGlade. The United States is the No. 1 oil and gas production methane emitter, with China polluting even more methane from coal, he said.

Last December, the Biden administration issued a new rule forcing the U.S. oil and natural gas industry to cut its methane emissions. At the same time at the United Nations climate negotiations in Dubai, 50 oil companies around the world pledged to reach near zero methane emissions and end routine flaring in operations by 2030. That Dubai agreement would trim about one-tenth of a degree Celsius, nearly two-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit, from future warming, a prominent climate scientist told The Associated Press.

Monitoring methane from above, instead of at the sites or relying on company estimates, is a growing trend. Earlier this month the market-based Environmental Defense Fund and others launched MethaneSAT into orbit. For energy companies, the lost methane is valuable with Sherwin's study estimate it is worth about $1 billion a year.

About 40% of the global methane emissions from oil, gas and coal could have been avoided at no extra cost, which is “a massive missed opportunity,” IEA's McGlade said. The IEA report said if countries do what they promised in Dubai they could cut half of the global methane pollution by 2030, but actions put in place so far only would trim 20% instead, “a very large gap between emissions and actions,” McGlade said.

“It is critical to reduce methane emissions if the world is to meet climate targets,” said Cornell University methane researcher Robert Horwath, who wasn't part of Sherwin's study.

“Their analysis makes sense and is the most comprehensive study by far out there on the topic,” said Howarth, who is updating figures in a forthcoming study to incorporate the new data.

The overflight data shows the biggest leaks are in the Permian basin of Texas and New Mexico.

“It's a region of rapid growth, primarily driven by oil production,” Sherwin said. “So when the drilling happens, both oil and gas comes out, but the main thing that the companies want to sell in most cases was the oil. And there wasn't enough pipeline capacity to take the gas away” so it spewed into the air instead.

Contrast that with tiny leak rates found in drilling in the Denver region and the Pennsylvania area. Denver leaks are so low because of local strictly enforced regulations and Pennsylvania is more gas-oriented, Sherwin said.

This shows a real problem with what National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association methane-monitoring scientist Gabrielle Petron calls “super-emitters."

“Reliably detecting and fixing super-emitters is a low hanging fruit to reduce real life greenhouse gas emissions,” Petron, who wasn't part of Sherwin's study, said. “This is very important because these super-emitter emissions are ignored by most ‘official’ accounting.”

Stanford University climate scientist Rob Jackson, who also wasn't part of the study, said, “a few facilities are poisoning the air for everyone.”

“For more than a decade, we’ve been showing that the industry emits far more methane than they or government agencies admit," Jackson said. “This study is capstone evidence. And yet nothing changes.”

Texas has a few LNG projects in the works, but it's unclear how the delay will affect them. Photo via Getty Images

Consideration for new LNG terminals delayed with climate risk in mind

decisions TBD

The Biden administration is delaying consideration of new natural gas export terminals in the United States, even as gas shipments to Europe and Asia have soared since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The election year decision by President Joe Biden aligns with environmentalists who fear the huge increase in exports, in the form of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, is locking in potentially catastrophic planet-warming emissions when the Democratic president has pledged to cut climate pollution in half by 2030.

“While MAGA Republicans willfully deny the urgency of the climate crisis, condemning the American people to a dangerous future, my administration will not be complacent,'' Biden said in a statement Friday. “We will not cede to special interests. We will heed the calls of young people and frontline communities who are using their voices to demand action from those with the power to act.''

Texas has a few LNG projects in the works, but it's unclear how the delay will affect them.

The current economic and environmental analyses the Energy Department uses to evaluate LNG projects don't adequately account for potential cost hikes for American consumers and manufacturers or the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, the White House said.

Industry groups condemned the pause as a “win for Russia," while environmentalists cheered an action they have long been seeking as a way to counter Biden’s approval of the huge Willow oil project in Alaska last year.

“This decision is brave, because Donald Trump (the man who pulled us out of the Paris climate accords on the grounds that climate change is a hoax) will attack it mercilessly,'' environmental activist Bill McKibben wrote in an online post.

“But it’s also very, very savvy: Biden wants young people, who care about climate above all, in his corner. They were angry about his dumb approval of the Willow oil project,'' McKibben added.

A proposed LNG export terminal in Louisiana would produce about 20 times the greenhouse gas emissions of Willow, McKibben noted.

“And of course everyone understands that if Biden is not reelected this win means nothing. It will disappear on Day One when (Trump) begins his relentless campaign to ‘drill drill drill,'" he said.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the pause will not affect already authorized export projects and noted that U.S. gas exports reached record highs last year. The pause will not immediately affect U.S. supplies to Europe or Asia, Granholm said, since seven LNG terminals are currently in operation, with several more expected to come online in the next few years.

"We remain committed to ensuring our partners' medium-term energy needs are met,'' she told reporters at a White House briefing late Thursday. If necessary, the Energy Department can allow exceptions for national security needs, Granholm said.

She and other officials declined to say how long the permitting pause will last, but said a study of how proposed LNG projects will affect the environment, the economy and national security will take "some months.'' A public comment period after that will likely delay any decisions on pending LNG projects until after the 2024 presidential election.

U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas began less than a decade ago, but have grown rapidly in recent years to the point that the U.S. has become the world’s largest gas exporter. Exports rose sharply after Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, and Biden and Granholm have celebrated the delivery of U.S. gas to Europe and Asia as a key geopolitical weapon against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The American Petroleum Institute, the largest lobbying group for the oil and gas industry, turned those comments against the Democratic administration as it condemned Biden's action.

“This is a win for Russia and a loss for American allies, U.S. jobs and global climate progress," said Mike Sommers, API's president and CEO.

"There is no review needed to understand the clear benefits of U.S. LNG (exports) for stabilizing global energy markets, supporting thousands of American jobs and reducing emissions around the world by transitioning countries toward cleaner fuels'' and away from coal, Sommers said in a statement.

Biden's action "is nothing more than a broken promise to U.S. allies, and it’s time for the administration to stop playing politics with global energy security,” he said.

Granholm, who has made it a point to work with oil and gas executives even as Biden has exchanged sometimes pointed barbs with them, said “a lot has happened” since LNG exports began about eight years ago.

“We need to have an even greater understanding of the (global energy) market need, the long-term supply and demand of energy resources and the environmental factors,'' she said. “So by updating the analysis process now, we will be better informed to avoid export authorizations that diminish our domestic energy availability, that weaken our security or that undermine our economy. ‘’

Granholm emphasized the delay “is not a retroactive review of already authorized exports,'' nor is it intended to punish the oil and gas industry.

“We are committed to strengthening energy security here in the U.S. and with our allies, and we’re committed to protecting Americans against climate change as we lead the world into a clean energy future,'' she said.

Jeremy Symons, an environmental consultant and former climate policy adviser at the Environmental Protection Agency, called Biden's decision a “game-changer” in the fight against climate change.

“The president is drawing a line in the sand to put the nation's interests first and listen to climate science,'' Symons said in an interview. ”The days of massive fossil fuel projects like the CP2 project escaping scrutiny from the federal government are over. We now have a president who cares about climate change.''

Symons and other activists have targeted the $10 billion Calcasieu Pass 2 project, or CP2, along Louisiana's Gulf Coast, noting it would be the nation's largest export terminal if built. The project in Cameron Parish would export up to 20 million tons (18.1 million metric tons) of chilled natural gas per year, creating more greenhouse gas emissions than even the Willow project, which environmentalists have decried as a "carbon bomb.''

Symons called the gas project "bad for our nation, bad for our health and bad for our economy.''

Shaylyn Hynes, spokeswoman for the project’s owner, Virginia-based Venture Global, said the Biden administration "continues to create uncertainty about whether our allies can rely on U.S. LNG for their energy security.''

A prolonged pause on LNG exports "would shock the global energy market ... and send a devastating signal to our allies that they can no longer rely on the United States,'' said Hynes, who served as an Energy Department spokeswoman in the Trump administration.

"The true irony is this policy would hurt the climate and lead to increased (greenhouse gas) emissions, as it would force the world to pivot to coal'' instead of natural gas, Hynes said.

Climate activists dispute that, calling LNG a leading contributor to climate change due to methane leaks and an energy-intensive process to liquefy gas.

A proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule intended to encourage industry to adopt best practices that reduce emissions of methane and thereby avoid paying. Photo via Canva

EPA sets out rules for proposed 'methane fee' for waste generated by oil and natural gas companies

pollution deterrent

Oil and natural gas companies for the first time would have to pay a fee for methane emissions that exceed certain levels under a rule proposed Friday by the Biden administration.

The proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule follows through on a directive from Congress included in the 2022 climate law. The new fee is intended to encourage industry to adopt best practices that reduce emissions of methane and thereby avoid paying.

Methane is a climate “super pollutant” that is more potent in the short term than carbon dioxide and is responsible for about one-third of greenhouse gas emissions. The oil and natural gas sector is the largest industrial source of methane emissions in the United States, and advocates say reduction of methane emissions is an important way to slow climate change.

Excess methane produced this year would result in a fee of $900 per ton, with fees rising to $1,500 per ton by 2026.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the proposed fee would work in tandem with a final rule on methane emissions EPA announced last month. The fee, formally known as the Methane Emissions Reduction Program, will encourage early deployment of available technologies to reduce methane emissions and other harmful air pollutants before the new standards take effect, he said.

The rule announced in December includes a two-year phase-in period for companies to eliminate routine flaring of natural gas from new oil wells.

“EPA is delivering on a comprehensive strategy to reduce wasteful methane emissions that endanger communities and fuel the climate crisis,” Regan said in a statement. When finalized later this year, the proposed methane fee will set technology standards that will “incentivize industry innovation'' and spur action to reduce pollution, he said.

Leading oil and gas companies already meet or exceed performance levels set by Congress under the climate law, meaning they will not have to pay the proposed fee, Regan and other officials said.

Sen. Tom Carper, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said he was pleased the administration was moving forward with the methane fee as directed by Congress.

“We know methane is over 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in our atmosphere in the short term,'' said Carper, D-Del. He said the program "will incentivize producers to cut wasteful and excessive methane emissions during oil and gas production.”

New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said oil and gas companies have long calculated that it's cheaper to waste methane through flaring and other techniques than to make necessary upgrades to prevent leaks.

“Wasted methane never makes its way to consumers, but they are nevertheless stuck with the bill,” Pallone said. The proposed methane fee “will ensure consumers no longer pay for wasted energy or the harm its emissions can cause.''

Republicans call the methane fee a tax that could raise the price of natural gas. “This proposal means increased costs for employers and higher energy bills for millions of Americans,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia.

The American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry's largest lobbying group, slammed the proposal Friday and called for Congress to repeal it.

“As the world looks to U.S. energy producers to provide stability in an increasingly unstable world, this punitive tax increase is a serious misstep that undermines America’s energy advantage,'' said Dustin Meyer, API's senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs.

While the group supports “smart” federal methane regulation, the EPA proposal “creates an incoherent, confusing regulatory regime that will only stifle innovation and undermine our ability to meet rising energy demand,'' Meyer said. “We look forward to working with Congress to repeal the IRA’s misguided new tax on American energy.”

Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, called the proposed fee "common sense,'' adding that oil and gas companies should be held accountable for methane pollution, a primary source of global warming.

In a related development, EPA said it is working with industry and others to improve how methane emissions are reported, citing numerous studies showing that and oil and gas companies have significantly underreported their methane emissions to the EPA under the agency's Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

The climate law, formally known as the Inflation Reduction Act, established a waste-emissions charge for methane from oil and gas facilities that report emissions of more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year to the EPA. The proposal announced Friday sets out details of how the fee will be implemented, including how exemptions will be applied.

The agency said it expects that over time, fewer oil and gas sites will be charged as they reduce their emissions in compliance with the rule.

The federal grants will fund 47 EV charging stations and related projects in 22 states and Puerto Rico, including 7,500 EV charging ports. Photo by Andrew Roberts/Unsplash

Texas to receive $70M to build EV charging network

follow the funding

The Biden administration is awarding $623 million in grants to help build an electric vehicle charging network across the nation, and Texas is expected to see a chunk of that funding.

Grants being announced Thursday will fund 47 EV charging stations and related projects in 22 states and Puerto Rico, including 7,500 EV charging ports, officials said.

“America led the arrival of the automotive era, and now we have a chance to lead the world in the EV revolution — securing jobs, savings and benefits for Americans in the process,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The new funding “will help ensure that EV chargers are accessible, reliable and convenient for American drivers, while creating jobs in charger manufacturing, installation and maintenance for American workers.”

Congress approved $7.5 billion in the 2021 infrastructure law to meet President Joe Biden's goal of building out a national network of 500,000 publicly available chargers by 2030. The charging ports are a key part of Biden's effort to encourage drivers to move away from gasoline-powered cars and trucks that contribute to global warming.

But progress on the network has been slow. Ohio and New York are the only states that have opened charging stations under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program. Several other states, including Pennsylvania and Maine, have broken ground on federally funded projects and are expected to open stations early this year. A total of 28 states, plus Puerto Rico, have either awarded contracts to build chargers or have accepted bids to do so.

The grants announced Thursday include $311 million to 36 “community” projects, including two Native American Tribes in Alaska and Arizona. The projects will boost EV charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure in urban and rural communities, including at high-use locations such as schools, parks, libraries and apartment buildings.

About $70 million will go to the North Central Texas Council of Governments to build up to five hydrogen fueling stations for medium- and heavy-duty freight trucks in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio. The project will help create a “hydrogen fueling corridor” from southern California to Texas.

Another $312 million in funding will go to 11 highway “corridors” along roadways designated as Alternative Fuel Corridors. The projects include $19.6 million for publicly accessible EV charging facility in Riverside County California, located midway between Los Angeles and Phoenix on the I-10 corridor. The project includes installation of six large chargers for heavy-duty vehicles and 30 fast chargers for light-duty vehicles; solar and battery energy storage systems; and amenities such as rest areas.

A pollution district in San Joaquin Valley, California will receive $56 million to build two state-of-the-art truck charging sites in Taft and Gustine, California, to support two of the nation’s busiest freight corridors along I-5. The sites will feature 90 fast chargers for passenger vehicles, 85 fast chargers for medium to heavy-duty EVs and 17 large chargers. The sites will also enhance grid stability with 63 acres of solar panels and battery electric storage systems.

Another $15 million will go to the Maryland Clean Energy Center to build 87 EV charging stations in urban, suburban and low- and moderate-income communities across the state. Proposed sites include Coppin State University, a historically Black school in Baltimore, and 34 disadvantaged communities with multi-family housing.

Since Biden took office in 2021, EV sales have more than quadrupled and reached more than 1 million last year. The number of publicly available charging ports has grown by nearly 70 percent to 168,426, White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi said.

That number is about one-third of the way to Biden's goal, with six years remaining.

“We are on an accelerating trajectory to meet and exceed the president’s goal to hit 500,000 chargers and build that nationwide backbone,'' Zaidi told reporters Wednesday.

Widespread availability of chargers is crucial to meet another Biden administration goal: ensuring that EVs make up half of all new car sales by 2030. Along with cost, “range anxiety” about a lack of available charging stations is a key impediment to buying an EV. About 80 percent of respondents cited concerns about a lack of charging stations as a reason not to purchase an electric vehicle, according to an April survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.

Seven in 10 respondents said they would not purchase an EV because they take too long to charge and the battery technology isn’t ready.

Buttigieg and other administration officials brushed those concerns aside and said the future of auto travel is electric.

“We’re at a moment now where the electric vehicle revolution isn't coming. It is very much here,'' Buttigieg told reporters. EV sales now represent about 9 percent of all passenger vehicle sales, Buttigieg said — a huge increase since Biden took office. He cited a new study showing that EV's cost just 4 percent more than gasoline-powered cars.

"There's been a really remarkable drop in the prices that consumers face for EVs. And we believe we are fast approaching the period when EVs, on average, will be cheaper than internal combustion vehicles,'' Buttigieg said.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Rice physicist earns $15.5M grant from DOE for ground-breaking research

future of physics

A team of Rice University physicists has been awarded a prestigious grant from the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Physics for their work in high-energy nuclear physics and research into a new state of matter.

The five-year $15.5 million grant will go towards Rice physics and astronomy professor Wei Li's discoveries focused on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), a large, general-purpose particle physics detector built on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, a European organization for nuclear research in France and Switzerland. The work is "poised to revolutionize our understanding of fundamental physics," according to a statement from Rice.

Li's team will work to develop an ultra-fast silicon timing detector, known as the endcap timing layer (ETL), that will provide upgrades to the CMS detector. The ETl is expected to have a time resolution of 30 picoseconds per particle, which will allow for more precise time-of-flight particle identification.

This will also help boost the performance of the High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC), which is scheduled to launch at CERN in 2029, allowing it to operate at about 10 times the luminosity than originally planned. The ETL also has applications for other colliders apart from the LHC, including the DOE’s electron-ion collider at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York.

“The ETL will enable breakthrough science in the area of heavy ion collisions, allowing us to delve into the properties of a remarkable new state of matter called the quark-gluon plasma,” Li explained in a statement. “This, in turn, offers invaluable insights into the strong nuclear force that binds particles at the core of matter.”

The ETL is also expected to aid in other areas of physics, including the search for the Higgs particle and understanding the makeup of dark matter.

Li is joined on this work by co-principal investigator Frank Geurts and researchers Nicole Lewis and Mike Matveev from Rice. The team is collaborating with others from MIT, Oak Ridge National Lab, the University of Illinois Chicago and University of Kansas.

Last year, fellow Rice physicist Qimiao Si, a theoretical quantum physicist, earned the prestigious Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship grant. The five-year fellowship, with up to $3 million in funding, will go towards his work to establish an unconventional approach to create and control topological states of matter, which plays an important role in materials research and quantum computing.

Meanwhile, the DOE recently tapped three Houston universities to compete in its annual startup competition focused on "high-potential energy technologies,” including one team from Rice.

Tesla starts off 2024 with tumble in sales

in a decline

Tesla sales fell sharply last quarter as competition increased worldwide, electric vehicle sales growth slowed, and price cuts failed to lure more buyers.

The Texas company said Tuesday that it delivered 386,810 vehicles worldwide from January through March, almost 9% below the 423,000 it sold in the same quarter of last year. It was the first year-over-year quarterly sales decline in nearly four years.

Sales also fell short of even the most bearish Wall Street expectations. Auto industry analysts polled by FactSet were looking for 457,000 vehicle deliveries from Tesla Inc. That's a shortfall of more than 15%.

The company blamed the decline in part on phasing in an updated version of the Model 3 sedan at its Fremont, California, factory, plant shutdowns due to shipping diversions in the Red Sea, and an arson attack that knocked out power to its German factory.

But TD Cowen Analyst Jeffrey Osborne wrote in a note to investors that weaker March sales indicate that incentives, including discounts and a free trial of “Full Self Driving” software, “did not work as demand deteriorated.”

Despite the sales decline, Tesla was able to retake its global EV sales crown from China's BYD, which sold just over 300,000 electric vehicles during the quarter, Osborne wrote.

In its letter to investors in January, Tesla predicted “notably lower” sales growth this year. The letter said Tesla is between two big growth waves, one from global expansion of the Models 3 and Y, and a second coming from the Model 2, a new, smaller and less expensive vehicle with an unknown release date.

“This was an unmitigated disaster 1Q that is hard to explain away,” wrote Dan Ives, an analyst with Wedbush who has been very bullish on Tesla's stock. The drop in sales was far worse than expected, he wrote in a note to investors.

The quarter is a “seminal moment” in the Tesla growth story, Ives wrote, adding that CEO Elon Musk will have to turn the company around. “Otherwise, some darker days could clearly be ahead that could disrupt the long-term Tesla narrative.”

Ives maintained his Outperform rating on Tesla's shares and cut his one-year price target from $315 to $300. Ives estimated that China sales slid 3% to 4% during the period.

Shares of Tesla tumbled 4.9% to close Tuesday at $166.63, continuing an extended decline. Investors have shaved 33% off the value of the company so far this year, dumping shares after growing leery of the tremendous growth story that Tesla has been telling.

“Street criticism is warranted as growth has been sluggish and (profit) margins showing compression, with China a horror show and competition increasing from all angles,” Ives wrote.

Tesla dramatically lowered U.S. prices by up to $20,000 for some models last year. In March it temporarily knocked $1,000 off the Model Y, its top-selling vehicle. Those price cuts narrowed the company’s profit margins and spooked investors.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected the average selling price for Model Y to be $41,000 last quarter, $5,000 less than a year ago and $15,000 lower than the peak of $56,000 in June of 2022.

Tesla's sales numbers also pulled down shares of its U.S. EV competitors. Shares of Rivian fell 5.2%, while Lucid stock dropped 3.5% on Tuesday.

Deliveries of the Models 3 and Y, fell 10.3% year over year to 369,783. Sales of the company's other models, the aging X and S and the new Cybertruck, rose almost 60% to 17,027. Tesla produced 10.7% more vehicles than it sold during the first quarter.

Softer-than-expected first-quarter sales are reducing analyst expectations for Tesla's quarterly earnings ahead of their scheduled release on April 23.

Tesla’s sales come against the backdrop of a slowing market for electric vehicles in the U.S. EV sales grew 47% last year to a record 1.19 million as EV market share rose to 7.6%. But sales growth slowed toward the end of the year. In December, they rose 34%.

Updated EV sales numbers will come later Tuesday when most automakers report U.S. sales.

Other automakers also have had to cut electric vehicle production and reduce prices to move EVs off dealership lots. Ford, for instance, cut production of the F-150 Lightning electric pickup, and lopped up to $8,100 off the price of the Mustang Mach E electric SUV in order to sell 2023 models.

SLB to consolidate carbon capture business in partnership

M&A moves

SLB announced its plans to combine its carbon capture business with Norway company, Aker Carbon Capture.

Upon completion of the transaction, which is expected to close by the end of the second quarter of this year, SLB will own 80 percent of the combined business and ACC will own 20 percent.

According to a SLB news release, the combined technology portfolios will accelerate the introduction of promising early-stage decarbonization technology.

“For CCUS to have the expected impact on supporting global net-zero ambitions, it will need to scale up 100-200 times in less than three decades,” Olivier Le Peuch, CEO of SLB, says in the release. “Crucial to this scale-up is the ability to lower capture costs, which often represent as much as 50-70% of the total spend of a CCUS project.

The International Energy Agency estimates that over one gigaton of CO2 every year year will need to be captured by 2030 — a figure that scales up to over six gigatons by 2050.

"We are excited to create this business with ACC to accelerate the deployment of carbon capture technologies that will shift the economics of carbon capture across high-emitting industrial sectors,” Le Peuch continues.

SLB is slated to pay NOK 4.12 billion — around $379.4 million — to own 80 percent of Aker Carbon Capture Holding AS, which owns ACC, per the news release, and SLB may also pay up to NOK 1.36 billion over the next three years, depending on business performance.