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The International Energy Agency holds an emergency meeting over oil supplies

Major consumers will discuss the US decision to tap into its strategic oil stash.

Crude oil pipes at the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Bryan Mound, Texas
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  • Morgan Haefner
By Morgan Haefner

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The International Energy Agency holds an emergency meeting over oil supplies. Major consumers will discuss the US decision to tap into its strategic oil stash (more below), while OPEC will stick to its modest output strategy.

Europe is preparing to be cut off from Russian natural gas. Germany and France say they won’t be “blackmailed” by Vladimir Putin’s escalating demand for payment in rubles.

Ford and GM are suspending production in two Michigan plants. The automakers are once again dealing with parts shortages.

Shanghai is expanding its lockdown. As cases of covid continue to rise, the Chinese commercial capital will extend lockdown measures to cover most of its population.

GameStop is following Tesla and Amazon with a planned stock split. The company will increase its total number of shares from 300 million to 1 billion, and its stock price rose more than 15% in after-hours trading.

Two Amazon facilities are voting on unionization. Ballots are being counted in Alabama and New York, with oversight from the National Labor Relations Board.

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What to watch for

A plastic bag blows in the wind against a brick building backdrop. A quote reads, it's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world, a quote from the movie American Beauty.
Image copyright: Giphy

Turns out plastic bags floating in the wind aren’t as pretty as American Beauty romanticized.

Starting today, the UK will implement a tax designed to curb the production of single-use plastics. Manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging will need to pay £200 ($262) per ton for any plastic made of less than 30% recycled materials. The government projects the measure could save 200,000 tons of carbon emissions in its first year and boost demand for recycled materials by 40%. Industry groups warn it will raise costs for consumers.

The real question is whether plastic taxes, which are also under consideration in Spain and Italy, can work better than plastic bag bans, which research has shown can lead to unintended side effects like an uptick in consumption of paper bags and trash bags. On March 2, world leaders agreed to pursue a new global treaty on plastic pollution, so more anti-plastic policies will be piling up soon.

Where are the US oil reserves?

The US announced its largest withdrawal of crude oil from its strategic petroleum reserves since they were first set up in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis. The intended result is lower energy prices. But where’s the oil coming from?

The reserves are spread over four sites in the southern US, on the Gulf Coast, where tankers can easily make deposits and withdrawals. The oil is stored in large underground salt caverns, with a maximum capacity of 714 million barrels, though they’re not always at capacity. While adding a million extra barrels a day to the market won’t fix everything, drawing on US reserves can, at least, address the domestic demand for oil.

A map showing sites of the US strategic petroleum reserve. There are sites in In Texas and Louisiana near the Gulf of Mexico.

How to have fewer meetings

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Sleep at work is the new work from home. To avoid shutting down in the latest covid wave, Shanghai companies are relying on closed loops and asking employees to live in their workplaces.

A snapshot of the US past. The 1950 census, with its trove of 6.4 million digitized pages of demographic and social information, will be accessible today after 72 years.

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