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Monday, November 10, 2014

49
votes
The Environmental Perils of China’s Coal-to-Synthetic Gas Plans

BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK -- Recently China dramatically revised downward its ambitions for producing shale gas—slashing in half a target of producing more than 60 billion cubic meters annually by 2020, to just 30 billion cm. Meanwhile, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide still aims to radically increase its output of synthetic gas derived from coal—from almost nothing today to 12 percent of gas consumption by 2020. Sinopec (386:HK) alone has just announced a $10 billion investment in coal-to-gas technology.

The logic of the plan, in part, is to remove direct sources of air pollution from China’s smoggy city centers. Instead of burning coal for power and heating in urban areas, coal will be converted to gas at large power bases located in sparsely populated regions of western and northern China. So far,...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 10, 2014 By:
68 Comments

48
votes
ISIS sells stolen Kirkuk oil at $20 per barrel - Iraq Finance Ministry

RT -- Islamic State militants, who have seized oil fields and refineries in Kirkuk province in the north of Iraq, are selling the hijacked oil on the black market for a price as low as US $20 per barrel, according to the country's Finance Ministry.

The extremists have moved deeper into the oil rich Kirkuk region and captured more oil production facilities in the area, including one of Iraq's oldest oil fields, the director of the Public Debt Department at the Finance Ministry, Muwafaq Taha Izz al-Din Al-Houri told RIA Novosti news agency.

There are reports that Islamic State (IS) is selling Iraqi oil for only $20 per barrel on the black market, Al-Houri told the agency on the sidelines of an expert meeting on terrorist financing in Bahrain. The price is four times lower than on the official...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 10, 2014 By:
1540 Comments

47
votes
The Drive: Texting drivers put us all in danger

Star Tribune -- The family of a 15-month-old toddler who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a head-on car crash last summer in Eagan is cautiously optimistic that he will make a full recovery.

Henry Knoof underwent emergency surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain immediately following the July 17 crash at Diffley and Nichols Roads, and was put into a medically induced coma to allow the swelling to go down. For 13 days, Henry lay in pediatric intensive care in Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare hospital where things “were scary and could have gone sideways at any moment,” said Eric Palmer, the lawyer retained by the family to pursue any civil action.

Thankfully, the little guy went home on July 30. He’s taking anti-seizure medication, but otherwise is doing fine, said Palmer, who spoke for t  (read more)

Submitted Nov 10, 2014 By:
939 Comments

47
votes
Bakken truckers often 'haul heavy'

Star Tribune -- WATFORD CITY, N.D. – The dump truck rumbled over miles of unpaved roads in the hills just east of the Montana border, past the cattle and grain bins and haystacks, before arriving at the dirt pit. Bill Gore slid his truck onto the scale, inched up in line, and made a curving gesture to the man in the front-end loader.

That was the signal to pile the dirt on high, and the loader did: Gore’s five-axle truck pulled out of the pit north of Cartwright last week weighing 19,000 pounds more than its registered limit of 82,000 pounds.

“We try to run it as hard as we can,” said Gore, who’s been driving trucks here for four years.

Heavy trucks are the backbone of the ­Bakken oil fields, transporting the water, pipes, and sand needed to produce more than 1 million barrels of oil a day in western N  (read more)

Submitted Nov 10, 2014 By:
1503 Comments

46
votes
Consumer reports: Reliability of 2014 Vehicles Plagued by Infotainment Systems

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..usatoday.comWe know some motorists are too distracted when they drive.  Are automakers becoming so distracted by the toys that it impacts product quality?   Consumer Reports says infotainment systems appear to be the most troublesome feature in 2014 vehicles.
In fact, it considers them a "growing first-year reliability plague," referring to models in the first year after introduction or a redesign.That conclusion is part of the results of the publication's annual Auto Reliability Survey. The publication solicits replies from readers to a questionnaire about their cars and analyzes the results -- this year based on more than a million responses -- to predict the reliability of new vehicles by brand and model. ...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 10, 2014 By:
1167 Comments

Sunday, November 09, 2014

51
votes
Plunging oil prices pit US shale producers against ailing Opec

Business Day -- HERE is why the US shale upstarts just might win a confrontation with Saudi Arabia as oil sinks: While the Arab nation is as flush with cash as ever, the finances of some Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) members are deteriorating quickly.

Venezuela for example, has burned through billions of dollars, leaving its foreign reserves near a decade-low, to stave off default. In Nigeria, officials are struggling to stem a sell-off in the currency that has left it at a record low.

Those financial strains have Venezuela calling for action to prevent further declines in oil prices while a Libyan representative said the 12-member Opec should cut its output target.

When executives at American shale firms talk about having more staying power in a price war than some of the...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 09, 2014 By:
1294 Comments

50
votes
Parking, cell phone tickets paying off

Marietta Times -- Marietta's ban on drivers using cell phones or other hand-held communication devices officially took effect July 5. Since then city police have issued 142 citations, an average of about nine per week, to drivers who've violated the new ordinance. In addition the city's new parking enforcement officer, hired in mid September, has, to date, written 889 tickets for a variety of parking violations.

The fine is $145 for each citation issued on the cell phone ban which translates to a total $20,590 if all 142 drivers cited paid the full penalty at Marietta Municipal Court.

"Ninety-five dollars of that $145 fine will be used for court costs, which by law are distributed into a variety of funds" explained court clerk Emily Heddleston.  (read more)

Submitted Nov 09, 2014 By:
1403 Comments

49
votes
Republicans have votes to force Keystone XL approval

Houston Chronicle -- WASHINGTON — Republicans now have the votes they need in the House and the Senate to force President Barack Obama’s hand on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Even with some races still undecided, Election Day victories allow Republicans to claim at least 61 vocal supporters of Keystone XL in the Senate
 (read more)

Submitted Nov 09, 2014 By:
160 Comments

48
votes
Shale Drillers Idle Rigs From Texas to Utah Amid Oil Rout

Bloomberg -- The shale-oil drilling boom in the U.S. is showing early signs of cracking.

Rigs targeting oil sank by 14 to 1,568 this week, the lowest since Aug. 22, Baker Hughes Inc. said yesterday. The Eagle Ford shale formation in south Texas lost the most, dropping nine to 197. The nation’s oil rig count is down from a peak of 1,609 on Oct. 10.

“We are officially seeing the slowdown in oil drilling,” James Williams, president of energy consulting company WTRG Economics, said by telephone from London, Arkansas, yesterday. “There’s no doubt about it now. We’re already down 49 rigs since the peak in October. It’ll have fallen by more than 100 rigs by the end of year.”

Drillers from Apache Corp. to Continental Resources Inc. have said this week that they’re laying down rigs in some oil plays.  (read more)

Submitted Nov 09, 2014 By:
75 Comments

48
votes
Feds: Colorado oilman failed to report production

The State -- A Colorado oilman who once filed scores of lawsuits against energy companies claiming that they all had underreported natural gas production on federal lands now faces a civil penalty of his own from the federal government alleging he failed to report gas production.

The Office of Natural Resources Revenue, a division of the U.S. Department of Interior, this week announced it has assessed a civil penalty of $46,772 against Jack J. Grynberg.

The penalty follows a noncompliance notice the agency issued to Grynberg in 2011 alleging he failed to report production on federal leases in Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.

"It is mandatory that companies report production on federal leases, so we can ensure that proper royalties are paid on those taxpayer assets," ONRR Director Greg Gould said...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 09, 2014 By:
282 Comments

Saturday, November 08, 2014

51
votes
BMW develops street lights with electric car-charging sockets

Reuters -- BMW has developed street lights equipped with sockets to charge electric cars, it said on Friday, and will run a pilot project in Munich next year that uses existing local authority lighting networks.  (read more)

Submitted Nov 08, 2014 By:
596 Comments

48
votes
GOP in charge, eager to move on Keystone XL pipeline, taxes

AP via Sycamore Daily Journal -- Republicans' resounding victory gives them an opportunity to push legislation that's been bottled up in the Democratic Senate, from targeting elements of President Barack Obama's health care law to constructing the Keystone XL oil pipeline to rolling back environmental regulations.

Democrats suffered a drubbing in Tuesday's midterm elections, and Republicans regained control of the Senate and widely expanded their majority in the House. In command in both chambers in January, Republicans maintained that they have to show they can govern or else voters will show them the door.

"We now have the votes and we have the ability to call the agenda, so stop name-calling and let's actually produce some legislation that helps jobs and the economy and moves our country forward," Rep. Jason Chaffetz  (read more)

Submitted Nov 08, 2014 By:
851 Comments

47
votes
Chinese Banks May Invest $10 Billion in Russia's Sanctions-Hit Yamal LNG

The Moscow Times -- Chinese banks are prepared to invest more than $10 billion in Russia's giant Yamal liquefied natural gas project, billionaire Gennady Timchenko, a shareholder in independent gas producer Novatek, told news agency RIA Novosti on Friday.

The project has come under pressure this year since Novatek, Russia's largest independent gas producer and the driving force behind Yamal LNG, appeared on the list of companies sanctioned by the United States and European Union over Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis.

In light of the sanctions, Novatek will work more closely with Chinese banks, RIA quoted Timchenko as saying. "Negotiations are ongoing, it's a question of conditions," he added.

Novatek owns a 60 percent stake in the company created to carry out the project, followed by France's Total...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 08, 2014 By:
1209 Comments

47
votes
Ferrari Celebrates 60th Anniversary Since First Sale in U.S.A.

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..motorauthority.com“Nothing else sounds like a Ferrari — nothing,” says Bruce Meyer, a well-known Southern California collector, hot-rodder and Ferrari owner.The exotic Italian’s distinctive song will echo loudly around the world this year as the company marks its 60th anniversary of officially entering the United States.What do you say?  Is it the most powerful automotive brand in the world.? ...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 08, 2014 By:
3512 Comments

46
votes
US to exchange crude with Mexico as exports climb to 1 million b/d: Citi

Platts -- The US is expected to export more than 1 million barrels/day of crude oil and condensates by early next year, including roughly 200,000 b/d in light-for-heavy crude exchanges with Mexico, analysts with Citi said in a new report.

According to Citi's estimates, US crude oil exports to Eastern Canada will grow 500,000 b/d, exports from Alaska will climb to 100,000 b/d, exports of processed condensate will hit 200,000 b/d and exports to Mexico will grow to 200,000 b/d from zero.

Those Mexican exports will likely be done, at least initially, under exchanges in which the Commerce Department allows a barrel-for-barrel trade of light crude exports for heavy crude imports, analysts said.

"In the case of Mexico, there is a good fit between the heavy crude exported from Mexico to the US versus th  (read more)

Submitted Nov 08, 2014 By:
54 Comments

Friday, November 07, 2014

47
votes
Toyota Upgrades 2015 Camry With 2,000 New Parts

GasBuddy Blog -- Toyota just made the biggest midcourse correction in the history of America's best-selling car, reports Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free Press. The 2015 Toyota Camry gets sharper steering, new looks and interior upgrades to keep pace with other midsize sedans.In earlier days, Toyota might have tweaked the Camry's bumpers and lights... but critics say that leisurely pace won't do anymore. Changes to the Camry include a stiffer body, dramatic new grill and 2,000 new parts. Every exterior panel except the roof is new. ...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 07, 2014 By:
4661 Comments

45
votes
Airbag Maker Takata Saw and Hid Risk in 2004, Former Workers Say

nytimes.com -- Alarmed by a report a decade ago that one of its airbags had ruptured and spewed metal debris at a driver in Alabama, the Japanese manufacturer Takata secretly conducted tests on 50 airbags it retrieved from scrapyards, according to two former employees involved in the tests, one of whom was a senior member of its testing lab.

The steel inflaters in two of the airbags cracked during the tests, a condition that can lead to rupture, the former employees said. The result was so startling that engineers began designing possible fixes in preparation for a recall, the former employees said.

But instead of alerting federal safety regulators to the possible danger, Takata executives discounted the results and ordered the lab technicians to delete the testing data from their computers and......  (read more)

Submitted Nov 07, 2014 By:
216 Comments

45
votes
Jet Fuel Is Down, But Not Enough For A Thanksgiving Fare War

NPR Marilyn Geewax -- Airlines are paying less for jet fuel these days. But don't expect that price drop to translate into Thanksgiving travel bargains for you.
Rather than cut fares, airlines are turning fuel savings into cash for acquiring aircraft, upgrading software, rewarding workers and attracting long-term investors, according to John Heimlich, chief economist for Airlines For America, A4A, a trade group.
 (read more)

Submitted Nov 07, 2014 By:
763 Comments

44
votes
OPEC drawing a line in the sand at $US70

THE AGE BusinesDay -- As the price of oil slides further, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries secretary-general Abdullah al-Badri said OPEC is "concerned but not panicking" ahead of a scheduled meeting on November 27.

Brent crude oil was on Friday trading at $US82.79 a barrel and West Texas Intermediate was fetching $US77.85 per barrel, just shy of their 25 per cent drops since late June.

While Mr el-Badri, who has forecast a price rebound by the second half of 2015, conceded the recent sharp declines was a "little bit too much", other OPEC officials were more straightforward.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday two unnamed officials had flagged $US70 per barrel as a line in the sand for OPEC.

"At $US70 a barrel, there will be panic in OPEC. We have become used to living with $US100 a...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 07, 2014 By:
793 Comments

44
votes
Syrian government forces retake gas field from Islamic State: monitor

REUTERS -- Syrian government forces and allied armed groups recaptured a gas field from Islamic State fighters on Thursday, a monitoring group said.

The Sha'ar gas field in central Syria has changed hands four times since July, when Islamic State fighters first seized it and killed about 350 government troops, allied militiamen, guards and staff, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Government forces retook the field, which lies to the east of the central city of Homs, later that month but lost it again to Islamic State last week in fighting that killed at least 30 pro-government fighters.

The Observatory did not give casualty figures or further details for Thursday's fighting when pro-government forces again retook the field.

 (read more)

Submitted Nov 07, 2014 By:
975 Comments

Thursday, November 06, 2014

53
votes
Saudi-US supply war slashes crude oil prices

ABC News-Saudi Arabia's status as the world's most powerful oil market player is being challenged. -- The United States, with its huge proven reserves of shale oil, is shaking things up and changing the dynamics of the global crude market.

A conflict in Syria and Iraq would have caused havoc with oil prices in the past. Not anymore.

"We are can largely discount what we used to factor in as the geopolitical risk of the oil," said FUELtrac's Geoof Trotter.

"From my point of view, it's all about the numbers, the production and the price of oil."

That is because there is a battle of a different kind going on between Saudi Arabia and the US, which has ramped up oil production at the fastest pace in more than 30 years.

Unconventional shale oil and gas has made the US a major energy producer again, not far behind Saudi Arabia.

"The gas price has come off quite sharply since March. We've...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 06, 2014 By:
1462 Comments

45
votes
Cost of a litre of gas drops below $1 in Calgary as crude oil prices fall

Calgary Herald -- As crude oil prices drop to their lowest level in three years and concern about impact to the energy sector grows, motorists in Calgary are seeing the benefits at the pump.

Gas prices in Calgary dropped below $1 Wednesday at some stations, according to the website calgarygasprices.com. Regular gas was as low as 96.9 cents per litre and averaged 104.6, compared to an average price of 120.7 cents per litre just one month ago.

Prices at Calgary pumps have been steadily dropping since early October. The trend could continue, said Michael Ervin, president of The Kent Group’s MJ Ervin and Associates, which provides research and consulting services to the downstream petroleum industry.

“It’s tough to predict where fuel prices grow, but the major factor contributing to the decrease of course ha  (read more)

Submitted Nov 06, 2014 By:
914 Comments

45
votes
More Expensive Cars Are Leading to Longer-Term Loans

NY Times -- It used to be that a car loan lasted three or four years. After 36 or 48 months of payments, you could drive debt-free for a few more years, before deciding if you wanted to get a new vehicle.

But times have changed in the automobile buying world.

Six-year loans are now typical, and terms stretching as long as 96 months — eight years — are available at some lenders.

Experian Automotive, which tracks consumer buying data, says the average length of a new-car loan was a record 66 months, or five and a half years, in the second quarter, the most recent period for which data is available. About 41 percent of loans were for five to six years and about a quarter were for six to seven years. Less than 1 percent of loans were for longer than 84 months, said Melinda Zabritski, ...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 06, 2014 By:
421 Comments

45
votes
Mobile bidding for public parking spaces?

GasBuddy Blog -- The parking spaces in your town or city belong to you, the taxpayers who pay for them. Public officials, rightfully, regulate their use. Because they do not belong to private citizens, they should not be sold as the property of any individual, to the highest bidder on any app...  As Westbrook Pegler, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of the 30s and 40s used to say... 'It ain't right.'

But some cities have not yet caught up with the scam that enables individuals to sell parking spaces to mobile bidders.  In Philadelphia, they're fixing the problem fast. ...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 06, 2014 By:
1595 Comments

44
votes
Voters in Denton, Texas ban fracking; oil and gas organization immediately files lawsuit

The Times-Picayune -- A North Texas city that sits atop a natural gas reserve is preparing for an extended court battle after voters made it the first in the state to ban further hydraulic fracturing — a fight that cities nationwide considering similar laws will likely be watching closely.

An industry group and the state's little-known but powerful General Land Office responded quickly to the measure Denton approved Tuesday night, seeking an injunction in District Court to stop it from being enforced.

Battling the fracking ban will be Texas Land Commissioner-elect George P. Bush's first fight. The founding manager of an energy and infrastructure consultancy, Bush promoted the economic benefits of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, throughout his campaign.

The ban could have a domino effect in Texas,...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 06, 2014 By:
952 Comments