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Interviews

Profit, power and politics: an Energy Source Q&A with US energy editor Derek Brower

In this turbulent landscape, the Financial Times intends to provide insights and analysis across verticals, to help individuals and businesses around the world.

With this in mind, it only felt right to bring back one of our paused newsletters, to cover the world of energy. Welcome back to Energy Source. Authored by the US energy editor, Derek Brower, and in collaboration with the FT’s expanding team of energy experts, the newsletter houses select news, insight and agenda-shaping commentary from around the globe, in the energy space.

We sat down with Derek, and found out a little more about the newsletter, and what readers can expect.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Derek Brower: My name is Derek Brower, and I'm the US energy editor for the Financial Times. I've been covering energy for a lot longer though, since the late 90s actually. I worked away from journalism for a while, but I jumped at the chance to come to the FT. I love the FT. I think it's a great brand, great paper, and the platform that the FT gives journalists is fantastic and the access that we get is fantastic too.

What I've done most of my career is write about countries that have trouble with oil. OPEC countries, many where there's violence or conflict, all involving oil. I covered the war in Libya, travelled through Iraq during some of the troubles there, spent a lot of time in the Middle East and North Africa, but my specialism originally was Russia. All of these bases are very controversial geopolitically and that was my original focus.

But now I've turned to something that I think is just as exciting, if not more, which is what's going on in the US energy sector. Not just oil and gas, where there's an amazing story that's emerged because of the virus and because of the Russian Saudi price war, but also in the terms of the transition. What's happening with clean energy, what's happening with investors and what they're deciding to do around energy, what they want to back, or not back. These are stories that I think are going to define the global economy for the next few years or so.

Tell us about Energy Source, and why it’s been brought back.

DB: I didn't start Energy Source, but I have relaunched it. It involves original reporting and, scoops, stories, all from the energy sector. It’s not just oil and gas, but also about solar, about wind power, about energy transition, about carbon. We're looking at Joe Biden right now and his plan for the US election, what he's got planned for the US economy after he hopes to win the US election. It's about the battle that's underway between investors and producers, and whose model of recovery in the US oil sector will really come to dominate that space. It’s about all the stuff that's in energy right now, focused on the US, but it's global.

It's global because we have writers and journalists, all across the world, who are contributing to it. They're bringing intelligence from Mexico, to Pemex and BP and its effort to decarbonize, to the Middle East, OPEC stories, Russia, Asia, everything. We're really focusing on some of the big themes that are happening globally, but are coming to a point in the US and those are about transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy.

It's about the recovery from the pandemic, what it looks like for the energy sector, and what role that energy plays in the economy, after the coronavirus pandemic is dealt with. The people that read it have a bit more interest in energy than they would normally get from the rest of the FT. Let's face it, this is slightly inside baseball. If you're an insider in the energy business, you definitely want to be reading this because it speaks to you. We speak to a lot of people on the ground, and we're constantly talking to sources and C-suite, and anybody who is based in the energy business from shale to solar.

The readers are typically people who might be in that business who have real authority already in it, or if you need to know, who need to trade, energy and so need the kind of gossip, and the inside take that we provide. It provides some scoops, and should provide intelligence to help you make decisions or help people who are in the sector to make decisions about how they're going to invest. It assumes a bit of knowledge, but keeps it interesting as well. So far we've had a great response from the readers who have subscribed to it, and have welcomed it back into their inboxes. It's going from strength to strength right now.

Energy Source writers are bringing intelligence from Mexico, to Pemex and BP and its effort to decarbonize, to the Middle East, OPEC stories, Russia, Asia, everything.
Energy Source writers are bringing intelligence from Mexico, to Pemex and BP and its effort to decarbonize, to the Middle East, OPEC stories, Russia, Asia, everything.
Energy Source writers are bringing intelligence from Mexico, to Pemex and BP and its effort to decarbonize, to the Middle East, OPEC stories, Russia, Asia, everything.
Energy Source writers are bringing intelligence from Mexico, to Pemex and BP and its effort to decarbonize, to the Middle East, OPEC stories, Russia, Asia, everything.
Energy Source writers are bringing intelligence from Mexico, to Pemex and BP and its effort to decarbonize, to the Middle East, OPEC stories, Russia, Asia, everything.

What are the unique features of Energy Source that readers won’t find elsewhere?

DB: The best thing to me is that we have such a strong team behind the newsletter. In the UK, we have David Sheppard and Anjili Raval, Nathalie Thoma and Leslie Hook, and we have a really strong global team that has been covering the global energy story. In the US, we're beefing up hugely. Myles McCormick is joining me and Gregory Meyer in New York, and we're soon to appoint somebody to Houston, so we’re really expanding our network in the key energy hubs.

Each of these people has authority in the sector, is recognised as an expert, and is somebody that executives, leaders, and sources want to talk to, because they trust the FT. They trust us to get it right. That is something that's influenced and helped the coverage of energy. Not everything is in the paper, but they’ll get the insights if they read Energy Source, because that's where some of the readers get their extra intelligence on the energy sector stuff that they can use to make themselves look more authoritative themselves, or used to take investment decisions and influence positions, and so on.

Beyond energy professionals, what other sectors would benefit from reading Energy Source?

DB: Energy Source is not just for oil traders, or people who are involved in the solar PV sector. Energy Source is a place to come to understand what's going on inside energy. Energy is the most important sector in the world. It is the lifeblood of the global economy, and it will be absolutely central to the recovery from the pandemic, and our battle to combat climate change.

The breadth of the story is huge, and the range of people who are interested in energy is also huge. Energy Source, for me, is not just about the newsletter that comes out twice a week. It’s the whole vertical. It's going to involve discussion groups, events, breakfast briefings, a podcast and so on. It's part of an expansion into the entire energy sphere by the FT.

It's still written with the same kind of panache of the FT's other articles; it still has the same authority; it still talks to the same kind of sources; it still goes after the same big topics; it still speaks to a global audience about the topics. It just happens to be that, in this case, there's more of it and there's more about energy, and it's all on Energy Source.

You can click here to sign up immediately to Energy Source, if you’re an FT subscriber.

If you’re interested in finding out how you can subscribe to Energy Source, along with our variety of other newsletters, you can reach out to our support team here.

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