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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

57
votes
For many, cash saved at gas pump is staying in pockets

St. Paul Pioneer Press-AP -- In recent months, the stage seemed set for American consumers to do what they've traditionally done best: Spend money -- and drive the economy.

The lowest gas prices in five years had given people more spending money. Employers added over 1 million jobs from November through January, the best three-month pace in 17 years. Businesses even raised pay in December. Economists had forecast that last week's retail sales report for January would show a healthy rise.

And yet -- to the surprise of analysts -- consumers have held their wallets closely.

Even though Americans spent $6.7 billion less at gas stations in January than they had two months earlier, the extra cash didn't get spent anywhere else: Retail sales, excluding gas, fell slightly from November to January.

 (read more)

Submitted Feb 24, 2015 By:
1648 Comments

47
votes
Oil back below $50 as OPEC hopes fade

CNBC --

Any hopes of a sustained rally in the price of oil disappeared Tuesday morning as doubts were raised over an anticipated cut in production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The oil cartel is not due to meet until June this year but a report by the Financial Times - with comments by Diezani Alison-Madueke, the Nigerian oil minister - suggested that an emergency meeting was due in the near term. This raised hopes that OPEC could cut production, something it had refused to do back at its last meeting in November 2014.

An anonymous delegate from the group denied these claims, telling Bloomberg overnight there was no emergency meeting planned. Brent crude futures dropped to 58.56 a barrel by 8:00 a.m. GMT on Tuesday and U.S. crude was back at $48.97 a barrel  (read more)

Submitted Feb 24, 2015 By:
351 Comments

46
votes
California to cut tax on gasoline by 6c/gal effective July 1

GasBuddy Blog -- Here's one you don't hear everyday: California's Board of Equalization is looking at lowering the excise tax that motorists pay on a gallon of gasoline in the state. At this writing, the Board of Equalization is meeting, likely to make a decision to cut 7.5 cents per gallon off the amount of tax Californians pay on gasoline.

Since 2010, the “fuel tax swap” law has required the Board to adjust the tax rate by March 1st of each year. If adopted, between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016, the excise tax rate on gasoline will be $0.285 per gallon. The current excise tax rate of $0.36 is in effect until June 30, 2015.

Board of Equalization Member George Runner says he wants to put more money back into consumers' pockets. "Right now, what it really means is that people are overpaying their taxes, and that doesn't make a lot of sense. And when we discover that people are overpaying their taxes, we need to try to stop that as soon as possible, and  (read more)

Submitted Feb 24, 2015 By:
1718 Comments

45
votes
Battered by freeze, U.S. refineries try to rebound before next chill

Reuters -- Major U.S. East Coast refineries were still working to restore operations on Monday, several days after severe cold weather triggered unit outages and drove up home heating oil futures on fears of tight supplies.

The refineries, which account for more than two-thirds of production in the region, got a brief reprieve from the burst of cold weather on Sunday, but another front with sub-zero temperatures is expected to sweep through late on Monday.

New York futures for ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) - used for heating in much of the Northeast - extended Friday's sharp gains in early trading, rising by another 4 percent on expectations of increased demand and supply worries.

Monroe Energy, a subsidiary of Delta Airlines Inc, restarted the fluid catalytic catcracker at its 185,000-barrel-per  (read more)

Submitted Feb 24, 2015 By:
1274 Comments

44
votes
Ford launches 17-city 'EcoBoost Challenge' test-drive tour

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..autoevolution.comFord Motor Company is once again giving fans and potential customers in 17 cities across America a chance to get behind the wheel of its latest products, with its third EcoBoost® Challenge consumer drive tour launching next month.EcoBoost Challenge expands to 17 cities in 2015, and will provide five unique drive experiences in Ford products. Additionally, participants will have an opportunity to win an EcoBoost-powered 2015 Ford Edge, and can earn additional entries in the sweepstakes by bringing guests with them to the event.Kicking off March 7 at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium, EcoBoost Challenge gets consumers behind the wheel of some of Ford’s most popular vehicles, including back-to-back drives with competitor vehicles. More than 28,000 people took part in last year’s EcoBoost Challenge. ...  (read more)

Submitted Feb 24, 2015 By:
2118 Comments

Monday, February 23, 2015

54
votes
USGS: Fracking is the cause of earthquakes in Oklahoma

KFOR -- OKLAHOMA — It’s the million dollar question in Oklahoma: What’s causing all the earthquakes?

There have been a lot of theories about fracking causing earthquakes. But now, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) says that fracking, is indeed, to blame.

The debate about the cause of earthquakes in Oklahoma has really heated up within the last year. But now, the USGS is making strong statements about what they believe is the root of the problem.

A press release states, “… the increased seismicity is due to fluid injection associated with new technologies that enable the extraction of oil and gas…”

For some, that could end the debate. But Kim Hatfield, with the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, says not so fast.

“I don’t think it’s particularly helpful because basically, it says we’  (read more)

Submitted Feb 23, 2015 By:
1681 Comments

53
votes
North American oil output keeps on rising

The National -- The latest news from North America is not encouraging for the world’s major oil exporters.

The recent sharp reduction in oil rig counts in use has levelled off.

At the same time, US domestic production continues to rise while imports from Canada also are rising again.

The net result for Opec is falling demand for their crude in the US, which means the fight for market share elsewhere continues to intensify.

Last week, data from the oil services company Baker Hughes showed that oil rigs in use fell by 37 to 1,109. That is the lowest number in use since mid-2011 after an unprecedentedly sharp fall since the end of last year.

But the rate of decline in rig use has slowed and production at the largest fields in the booming US shale sector has actually increased even as more marginal...  (read more)

Submitted Feb 23, 2015 By:
1165 Comments

51
votes
California to spend $20 million on building part of 'hydrogen highway'

Los Angeles times -- I's been more than a decade since former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger regularly talked about his dream of building a "hydrogen highway" that would speed fleets of non-polluting cars from Mexico to Canada.
The vision never materialized anywhere other than in the governor's upbeat, eco-friendly speeches.

Now, finally, a modest form of Schwarzenegger's highway might actually become a reality.
The California Energy Commission reports that it's spending $20 million to build nearly half of the approximately 100 stations needed to give a driver of a hydrogen car enough range to travel freely through most parts of the Golden State.

So far, only about 10 stations are operational, mostly in the Los Angeles and the San Francisco areas, servicing only a couple of hundred hydrogen-powered cars running  (read more)

Submitted Feb 23, 2015 By:
1567 Comments

44
votes
Obama’s Expected Keystone Pipeline Veto Is Likely to Be the First in a Wave

New York Times -- WASHINGTON — Wielding the weapon of his pen, President Obama this week is expected to formally reject a Republican attempt to force construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. But in stopping the transit of petroleum from the forests of Alberta to the Gulf Coast, Mr. Obama will be opening the veto era of his presidency.

The expected Keystone veto, the third and most significant of Mr. Obama’s six years in office, would most likely be followed by presidential vetoes of bills that could emerge to make changes in the Affordable Care Act, impose new sanctions on Iran and roll back child nutrition standards, among others.

For Mr. Obama, his Cross Townsend black roller-ball pen will become an extension of his second-term strategy to act alone in the face of Republican opposition and safeguar  (read more)

Submitted Feb 23, 2015 By:
140 Comments

43
votes
Oil prices fall as dollar strengthens and oversupply adds pressure

Reuters --

Oil prices fell on Monday as worries about oversupply in North America and a strong dollar pushed Brent futures towards $59 a barrel and U.S. contracts below $49 a barrel.

After an initial rise along with global markets on optimism that another euro zone crisis over Greek debt had been averted for now, prices began dipping as analysts said crude markets remained oversupplied, especially in the United States.

"The term structure of oil continues to weaken and inventories keep piling up," Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note.

Brent crude was trading $1.70 lower at $58.52 by 8:12 a.m EDT. Benchmark U.S. WTI crude April futures were trading down $1.92 at $48.89 a barrel.

WTI's March futures settled at $50.34 a barrel on Friday, expiring as the front-month contract.

The dollar wa  (read more)

Submitted Feb 23, 2015 By:
45 Comments

Sunday, February 22, 2015

53
votes
Say Goodbye to $2 Gas

Fox news -- It’s almost over for $2 gas.

Gasoline prices across much of America hit the milestone in December and January following oil’s collapse. The national average even came awfully close, falling as far as $2.026 based on data from GasBuddy.com.

But U.S. oil prices have bounced up from recent lows, thanks to fewer active rigs and an anticipated decline in supply. West Texas Intermediate crude oil traded around $50.51 a barrel Friday. Just three weeks ago, futures dipped below $44 a barrel.

Prices at the pump are now climbing back. The national average of $2.27 a gallon is nearly 23 cents more than the same day last month, according to GasBuddy. There’s still good news for drivers, as gas prices remain $1.11 cheaper year-over-year.

Slight relief could return once refineries complete the  (read more)

Submitted Feb 22, 2015 By:
1735 Comments

51
votes
Shell reveals what it says is the sticking point in labor talks

Fuel Fix -- Hours after the United Steelworkers said it would expand its strike to 15 refineries and plants nationwide, Shell Oil, which is bargaining on behalf of the industry took aim at the union.

Late Saturday, Shell released what it said are excerpts of a note to employees

The central issue blocking a settlement is not safety, fatigue, healthcare or wages, the statement said.

It is the union’s demand that Shell replace routine maintenance contractors with union-represented employees. Shell called that unreasonable, saying using contractors in those jobs allows needed flexibility.

Shell says: “We’re open to a variety of ways to maintain a strong roster of skilled craftsmen available to each of our locations. But hiring flexibility is a proven way to protect our core Shell workforce and the...  (read more)

Submitted Feb 22, 2015 By:
594 Comments

47
votes
U.S. refinery strike spreads to one-fifth of national capacity

Reuters -- HOUSTON (Reuters) - The largest U.S. refinery strike in 35 years entered its fourth week as workers at 12 refineries accounting for one-fifth of national production capacity were walking picket lines as of 12 a.m. CST (0600 GMT) on Sunday, according to union officials.

A total of 6,550 members of the United Steelworkers union (USW) at 15 plants, including the 12 refineries, are involved in the work stoppage that began on Feb. 1 when talks for a new three-year contract between the USW and lead oil company negotiator Shell Oil Co stopped.

Talks were resumed but have halted again after nearly reaching an agreement on Friday, said sources familiar with the negotiations.

After the latest breakdown between the two sides, Steelworkers leaders targeted Shell, which is the U.S. arm of Royal Dutc  (read more)

Submitted Feb 22, 2015 By:
64 Comments

43
votes
Fuel-hauling trains could derail at 10 a year

ABC News -- The federal government predicts that trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades, causing more than $4 billion in damage and possibly killing hundreds of people if an accident happens in a densely populated part of the U.S.

The projection comes from a previously unreported analysis by the Department of Transportation that reviewed the risks of moving vast quantities of both fuels across the nation and through major cities. The study completed last July took on new relevance this week after a train loaded with crude derailed in West Virginia, sparked a spectacular fire and forced the evacuation of hundreds of families.

Monday's accident was the latest in a spate of fiery derailments, and senior federal officials said it ...  (read more)

Submitted Feb 22, 2015 By:
109 Comments

43
votes
Oil tankers idle for months off Delaware waters, puzzling some

Reuters -- Late last November, the tanker Olympic Flag carrying 650,000 barrels of Angolan crude dropped anchor about 7 miles off the coast in Delaware Bay, a seemingly routine shipment destined for a nearby Philadelphia refinery.

What happened next was anything but routine. Instead of discharging its cargo within days and heading off for the next port, the ship idled offshore for nearly 11 weeks, discharging the oil at an unaccountably slow rate, according to shipping sources as well as vessel tracking data on ThomsonReuters Eikon.

That vessel finally set sail two weeks ago - but by then it had already been joined by five more idling tankers, an unusual and costly congregation that has puzzled experts and traders. All the vessels arrived by mid-January, and four of them are expected to stay in the  (read more)

Submitted Feb 22, 2015 By:
92 Comments

Saturday, February 21, 2015

43
votes
Pickup truck sales surge because of much more than low gas prices

The Globe & Mail -- The drastic plummet in the price of oil may not be good for Canada’s tar sands economy but, with gasoline at prices not seen for years, it puts hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars in fuel savings back into the pockets of car owners.  (read more)

Submitted Feb 21, 2015 By:
109 Comments

42
votes
California Exxon plant halts gasoline production since blast: manager

Reuters -- TORRANCE, Calif. (Reuters) - Gasoline production at an Exxon Mobil Corp refinery near Los Angeles has been halted since an explosion there on Wednesday, a plant manager said on Friday, raising the possibility of higher fuel prices in parts of Southern California.

Investigators were trying to determine the cause of the blast in Torrance, California, south of downtown Los Angeles, which sent four contract workers to the hospital with minor injuries.

Refinery manager Brian Ablett said Exxon has an unspecified volume of gasoline in storage at the plant but did not say at what rate it might release those stocks, nor did he have an estimate for when production might resume.

California lacks pipelines to carry locally refined gasoline across the state and its supplies are further restricted b  (read more)

Submitted Feb 21, 2015 By:
1090 Comments

42
votes
U.S. refinery strike widening to include largest plant: sources

YAHOO!-Reuters -- The U.S. refinery strike was widening on Friday night as workers at the nation's largest refinery gave notice of a walkout beginning at 12 a.m. (0600 GMT) Saturday, said sources familiar with negotiations.

Shortly after talks between union and oil company representatives ended on Friday night, the United Steelworkers union (USW) notified Motiva Enterprises [MOTIV.UL] of a strike by its members at the company's 600,250 barrel per day (bpd) refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, according to the sources.

Motiva is a 50-50 joint venture Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Saudi Aramco [SDABO.UL]. Shell is the lead oil company negotiator in talks with the USW for a national agreement on safety, pay and benefits.  (read more)

Submitted Feb 21, 2015 By:
1424 Comments

41
votes
Exxon appeals $1 million penalty for Yellowstone River spill

CBS News -- BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Exxon Mobil Corp. has asked federal regulators to reconsider a $1 million penalty imposed against the oil giant over a 63,000-gallon crude spill into Montana's Yellowstone River.

The Texas-based company asked the Dept of Transportation to withdraw three of its four findings of pipeline safety violations. It also asked for the penalty to be reduced.

Regulators said Exxon failed to adequately heed warnings that its 20-year-old Silvertip Pipeline was at risk from flooding.

An Exxon attorney said that the company was justified in determining flooding was not a great danger following a 2010 risk assessment.

That conclusion proved wrong. The spill left oil along an 85-mile stretch of the Yellowstone , killing fish and wildlife and prompting a cleanup that lasted months  (read more)

Submitted Feb 21, 2015 By:
1432 Comments

40
votes
Truckers with 35,000 openings seek jobless oil workers

Fuel Fix -- U.S. oil-company job cuts that cost machinery operator Drew Sanford his spot at Halliburton Co. are shaping up as a boon for truckers desperate for big-rig drivers.

Already equipped with a commercial license, the 30-year-old Sanford left North Dakota and landed at Oklahoma City-based Stevens Trucking Co. He is sometimes on the road as long as four days at a stretch, but the working conditions are good, he said, and “I’ll probably just stick here for a while.”

His career path is one that his new industry would like to see repeated. As a resurgent U.S. economy fuels demand for cargo shipments and sharpens competition for workers, mass firings in the oil patch amid the collapse in crude markets may help trucking companies ease an estimated shortage of 35,000 long-haul drivers.

“There are a  (read more)

Submitted Feb 21, 2015 By:
88 Comments

Friday, February 20, 2015

52
votes
Florida lawyer's flyer helps motorists dodge DUI checkpoints

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..fairdui.orgA controversial new flyer is helping some people dodge DUI checkpoints, without even speaking a word to the police, CBS News reports. Motorists who pull up to sobriety checkpoints are holding up the "Fair DUI Flyer." The flyer reads "I remain silent, no searches and I want my lawyer," along with a short list of state laws. Drivers who are passing through DUI checkpoints don't roll down the window, but instead display the flyer with their driver's license, insurance and registration.   Warren Redlich, a Florida criminal defense attorney, created the flyer because he "was tired of defending people who were wrongfully arrested after going through checkpoints," CBS News reported. ...  (read more)

Submitted Feb 20, 2015 By:
1703 Comments

47
votes
Have no fear, Hyundai cracks the fuel-cell code

autoweek.com -- The valet at the Hyatt Regency hotel rolls up in the hydrogen-fueled Hyundai Tucson and opens the front doors for me and a Hyundai communications executive. Pleasantries are exchanged and then we glide away silently into 10-degree winter weather.

If the valet noticed that he was driving the future, he didn’t mention it. Indeed, looking at the Tucson fuel cell vehicle, you wouldn’t notice anything different from the standard-issue gasoline-powered version. Sharp eyes might notice the fuel cap is a bit larger. But that’s about it.

I spent about 20 minutes driving one of the world’s most advanced vehicles in normal midday city traffic. It behaved no differently than any piston-engine vehicle, except it was smoother and quieter.
 (read more)

Submitted Feb 20, 2015 By:
943 Comments

44
votes
Why crude-oil inventories are climbing even as prices plunge

MarketWatch -- SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — You’d never know oil’s price is tanking by eyeballing supplies.

Oil inventories appear to be defying conventional wisdom, hovering near 80-year highs even as prices have tumbled by more than half since crude oil’s peak last June.

A report from trade group the American Petroleum Institute late Wednesday showed a jump of 14.3 million barrels in crude supplies for the week ended Feb. 13 — prompting some following the oil market to call it “ridiculous,” “shocking,” or “gargantuan.”

The action has left oil traders, already whipsawed by swings in oil prices, more confused than ever.

When the U.S. Energy Information Administration released its data early Thursday, the market seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief, even though the 7.7 million-barrel climb r  (read more)

Submitted Feb 20, 2015 By:
369 Comments

43
votes
Crude stores rise again

Fuel Fix -- The flood of crude headed into storage and holding down the price of oil gave no indication it was slowing Thursday.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said that commercial stores of crude oil grew by 7.7 million barrels to 425.6 million barrels, the highest level recorded in EIA data stretching back to 1982. The report was delayed one day due to Monday’s holiday.

Traders got word that a large inventories build was coming on Wednesday, when the American Petroleum Institute’s preliminary data showed a massive 14.3 million barrel jump in stored crude.

The more definitive EIA data turned out to be not quite as extreme, but was still among the larger builds that have carried crude stores past record levels.

The API’s news sent U.S. benchmark crude trading down $1.39, or 2.6 percent  (read more)

Submitted Feb 20, 2015 By:
777 Comments

42
votes
Oil edges up as U.S. rig count likely to fall further

Reuters -- Oil markets edged up on Friday to halt a two-day drop, helped by expectations that data later in the day would show a continuing decline in the U.S. oil rig count, a clear sign of the pressure the tumble in crude has put on oil producers.

A weekly survey by Baker Hughes last week showed the U.S. oil rig count fell to its lowest since August 2011, though government data indicated U.S. oil output has hit 9.2 million barrels a day, the most since 1973. The results of the latest rig count are due around 1800 GMT.

"I assume we're going to continue to see another big fall and that's going to provide support for the market," said Tony Nunan, a risk manager at Mitsubishi Corp in Tokyo.

"The expected fall in the second half is being built into current prices."

London Brent crude for April deliv  (read more)

Submitted Feb 20, 2015 By:
455 Comments