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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Burn it off or use it for fuel? System makes the choice easy

Houston Chronicle -- Gas flares have spread across South Texas with the upswing in Eagle Ford Shale oil production. But not all companies burn away the stream of natural gas that comes up a well alongside oil.

The temporary-power company Aggreko has worked with an Eagle Ford operator for more than a year to take gas that otherwise would be flared and instead use it to power generators.

The switch to using natural gas instead of diesel, which would have to be delivered by truck to the client's Eagle Ford site, has environmental benefits. But it also has saved the client around $10 million in diesel fuel costs.

"At the end of the day, it's economics," said David Dickert, Aggreko's head of oil and gas for the Americas.

Aggreko has designed a power plant to use the gas stream coming from the field to run ...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 18, 2015 By:

High levels of pollutants from drilling waste found in Pa. rivers

Pittsburgh Post Gazette -- New scientific sampling and analysis has found high concentrations of ammonium and iodide, two potentially hazardous pollutants, in oil and gas well drilling wastewater discharged into streams and rivers in Pennsylvania and other states.

Researchers collected samples of wastewater from both conventional and unconventional shale gas and oil wells in Pennsylvania and New York, from hydraulically fractured wells in Pennsylvania and Arkansas and from treatment plant discharges into rivers and streams at three Pennsylvania disposal sites in Venango and Indiana counties.

The sampling found that levels of ammonium and iodide in fracking fluid wastes and conventional oil and gas drilling wastewater can be equally high.

Ammonium, when dissolved in water, can convert to ammonia, which is toxic to  (read more)

Submitted Jan 18, 2015 By:

Venezuela’s Asia Tour Backfires as Crude Extends Slump

Bloomberg -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is winding down a tour of Asia and Russia that was intended to garner support for measures to bolster oil prices. A further 8 percent decline since the trip started suggests he failed.

Maduro plans to coordinate with OPEC and non-OPEC producers to create a “formula that impacts the oil market and restores the normalization of prices” he said Thursday after meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as the lowest prices in six years threaten both nations’ economies. Crude extended declines after Maduro spoke.

Venezuelan government lobbying to prop up prices is falling on deaf ears among other OPEC members that are prepared to let prices fall to a level that undermines a U.S. shale boom. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have said...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 18, 2015 By:

Lifting U.S. crude export ban could boost production, cut gas prices

Grand Forks Herald -- Lifting U.S. crude export restrictions could boost domestic oil production and cut gasoline prices, according to a report issued Friday by Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy.

The shale boom has flooded U.S. oil refiners with increased volumes of light sweet oil, which they are not generally configured to run. If rapid oil output growth continue without new demand for the crude, the pace of investment will fall, slowing future output, the study's authors said.

Modifying or lifting export restrictions would prevent this from happening by allowing domestic producers to compete globally, said the study's authors, the director of Columbia's center, Jason Bordoff and Trevor Houser, a partner with the Rhodium Group.

The study is the latest to support proponents ....  (read more)

Submitted Jan 18, 2015 By:

The Other Pipeline You Should Worry About

NY Times -- WHILE the ire of environmental activists remains fixed on the Keystone XL pipeline, a potentially greater threat looms in the proposed expansion of Line 61, a pipeline running the length of Wisconsin carrying tar sands crude. The pipeline is owned by Enbridge, a $40 billion Canadian company, which has been responsible for several hundred spills in the past decade, including one in 2010 near Marshall, Mich., reportedly the largest and most expensive inland oil spill in American history.

While the fight over Keystone XL has involved millions of dollars in advertising, the arrests of many activists outside the White House and the direct engagement of President Obama, Enbridge’s plans have received little national attention. This is a glaring example of how environmental policy with transnati  (read more)

Submitted Jan 18, 2015 By:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Oklahoma veteran buys CNG company after being let go

The Oklahoman -- Oklahoma National Guard veteran Justin Steckman lost his job at Heartland Energy Options, a company that converts vehicles to run on compressed natural gas, so he bought the company.

Justin Steckman was riding high last summer.

He was general manager of Heartland Energy Options, a local company making strides in the compressed natural gas vehicle market. It’s an industry he believes in after learning about CNG while deployed to Iraq in 2008 as a member of the Oklahoma National Guard.

The future looked bright, too, with a Fortune 500 company looking to acquire Heartland, keeping Steckman in place as general manager.

Then the price of crude oil, and to a lesser extent natural gas, cratered. Heartland’s potential buyer backed off and the company’s owners were forced to cut costs.

 (read more)

Submitted Jan 17, 2015 By:

The end of falling gas prices is in sight

Marketwatch -- By Claudia Assis
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — That record-breaking stretch of ever lower gas prices could finally be nearing its end.
U.S. drivers are paying an average of $2.08 a gallon on Friday, the cheapest since May 2009, travel and leisure group AAA said. Prices have fallen for a stunning 113 consecutive days, the longest streak since AAA started keeping track of daily averages 15 years ago, as the price of crude has plunged amid a supply glut.
But the pace of the decline at the pump has slowed. Moreover, gasoline prices usually head higher in February due to refinery maintenance ahead of the spring and summer driving season in the U.S. So even if oil prices stabilize, gas prices could start creeping up.
“There is room for gas prices to keep dropping due to a nationwide supply  (read more)

Submitted Jan 17, 2015 By:

TransCanada Sued by Nebraska Landowners Over Keystone Path -- TransCanada Corp. (TRP) was sued by Nebraska landowners in a new bid to block the Keystone XL pipeline a week after the state’s highest court rebuffed an attempt to void the approved path across the state, a leg that would complete the route from Alberta tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

Dual complaints were filed Friday against the Calgary-based company in state courts in York and O’Neill, Nebraska, by David Domina, the lawyer whose prior effort to halt construction of the 1,179-mile (1,897-kilometer) conduit was defeated by a cadre of judges who ruled his clients hadn’t established their legal right to sue.

The earlier lawsuit was aimed at now-former Republican Governor Dave Heineman, whom the landowners claimed was illegally given the authority by lawmakers approve the Keystone XL  (read more)

Submitted Jan 17, 2015 By:

2014 Breaks Heat Record, Challenging Global Warming Skeptics

NY Times -- Last year was the hottest on earth since record-keeping began in 1880, scientists reported on Friday, underscoring warnings about the risks of runaway greenhouse gas emissions and undermining claims by climate change contrarians that global warming had somehow stopped.  (read more)

Submitted Jan 17, 2015 By:

Clean Power to Shrug Off Oil Slump, Goldman, Deutsche Bank Say -- Spending on renewable energy, which surged 16 percent in 2014, will remain strong this year, largely unaffected by the slumping oil prices that have artificially depressed their shares.

That’s the message from Stuart Bernstein, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s global head of clean technology and renewables, and Vishal Shah, Deutsche Bank AG’s renewable-energy analyst. Because oil produces only 1 percent of U.S. electricity, the crude plunge that’s roiling markets should have only a “modest” effect on clean-energy developers or the companies that equip them, Bernstein said in a telephone interview.

“I don’t want to be dismissive of the impact of declining oil and gas commodity prices on renewable energy,” Bernstein said. “But they will have a very small impact on the long-term cost  (read more)

Submitted Jan 17, 2015 By:

Friday, January 16, 2015

BP sees $50 oil for three years

BBC -- BP's job announcement later today, including a few hundred job losses in Aberdeen, is being made because it does not expect the oil price to bounce any time soon.

The oil price has dropped around 60% since June, to $48 a barrel, and I understand that BP expects that it will stay in the range of $50 to $60 for two to three years.

Although no oil company has a crystal ball, this matters - especially since it has a big impact on its investment and staffing ambitions.

So plans that it had already initiated to reduce costs have taken on a new element, namely postponement of investments in new capacity that have not been started, and shelving of plans to extend the life of older fields where residual oil is more expensive to extract.

Aberdeen is an important centre for BP, and it employs...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 16, 2015 By:

Cheaper gasoline could save $300B across U.S. economy this year

Chicago Tribune -- When gas prices swelled to $4 or more per gallon in June, traveling salesman Neil Kocsis paid $70 to $100 to fill up his tank, forcing him to make some sacrifices for the sake of his budget..

"I didn't travel as much as I used to," said Kocsis, a Streeterville resident. "For work, I obviously had to, but if I didn't have to go to a restaurant, I wouldn't. I would stay in more or go somewhere in walking distance."

Ready supplies of cheaper oil, however, have changed the economics for consumers such as Kocsis. With oil dropping to a six-year low, prices at the pump are down nearly 40 percent compared with last year, delighting consumers who are finding it a lot less expensive to fill up the tank. Those savings also are expected to fuel gains in a rebounding economy.
 (read more)

Submitted Jan 16, 2015 By:

Johnson Controls & Toshiba introduce next-generation lithium titanate battery

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..jsonline.comJohnson Controls Inc. is teaming up with Toshiba to announce plans to produce a 12-volt lithium titanate battery that will be used to help improve gas mileage in vehicles in the years ahead, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.The battery, to be produced starting in 2018, will be shown off at the Detroit auto show this week. The battery is a next-generation version of a start-stop battery system that provides a more affordable alternative to improve fuel economy compared with a full-scale hybrid or electric vehicle.Johnson Controls has been in discussions with Toshiba about using its lithium titanate chemistry in a start-stop vehicle that will use the lithium battery and a lead-acid starter battery. ...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 16, 2015 By:

Welcome to ‘Normal’ Crude Oil Price, Trading at 100-Year Average -- The theory goes that commodity prices move in “supercycles” or bursts of phenomenal surges, followed by longer, less-exciting periods. As such, a barrel of oil at $50 is, well, normal.

Many people think the oil price has crashed, but it has just gone back to its long-term historical trend, according to Ruchir Sharma at Morgan Stanley Investment Management Inc. That makes a barrel of oil at around $50 just about right based on a 100-year inflation-adjusted average, said Sharma, who manages $25 billion as head of emerging markets.

“The price of oil is returning to normal in its long-term 100-year history,” Sharma said in an interview from New York. “We tend to have a short memory and we tend to forget that the price of oil breached the $50 a barrel level only a decade ago.”  (read more)

Submitted Jan 16, 2015 By:

Despite low gas prices, gas tax hike appears unlikely


WASHINGTON (AP) — The new Republican-controlled Congress is facing an old problem: where to find the money for highway and transit programs.

With gasoline prices at their lowest in years when the new Congress convened, there had been talk that it might be time to raise federal gas and diesel taxes, which haven't budged in more than 20 years.

But already, GOP leaders are tamping down expectations, leaving no clear solution to the funding problem.

"I don't know of any support for a gas tax increase in Congress," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the No. 2 Senate GOP leader, said flatly. Explained Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.: "They don't want to vote for a tax increase."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, while not closing the door entirely, said there aren't enough votes in the...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 16, 2015 By:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Gas prices continue to head south, to the delight of consumers

New Hampshire Union Leader -- GILFORD — Nicole Richardson watched the numbers on the pump as she filled her tank at Gilford Mobil Mart Wednesday afternoon.

The pump clicked, and her tank was full.

“I can’t believe it, less than $20!” Richardson, of Alton, said to applause from one nearby gas-seeker.

In case you didn’t notice, the price of gasoline has dropped, to lows the country has not seen since 2009. All around the state, the price of a gallon of regular gas has dropped, and in many towns, it’s at $1.99 a gallon or less.

There was a report this week that particularly low prices were being found first in Laconia, but that wasn’t the case.

“I don’t know why the fuss about Laconia,” said a manager at an Irving station in Tilton, who said his station dropped its price to $1.99 on Monday.  (read more)

Submitted Jan 15, 2015 By:

Gravy Train Derails for Oil Patch Workers Laid Off in Downturn

Bloomberg -- The first thing oilfield geophysicist Emmanuel Osakwe noticed when he arrived back at work before 8 a.m. last month after a short vacation was all the darkened offices.

By that time of morning, the West Houston building of his oilfield services company was usually bustling with workers. A couple hours later, after a surprise call from Human Resources, Osakwe was adding to the emptiness: one of thousands of energy industry workers getting their pink slips as crude prices have plunged to less than $50 a barrel.

“For the oil and gas industry, it’s scary,” Osakwe said in an interview after he was laid off last month from a unit of Halliburton Co. (HAL), which he joined in September 2013. “I was blind to the ups and downs associated with the  (read more)

Submitted Jan 15, 2015 By:

Verizon launches 'connected car' product for older vehicles

YAHOO! FINANCE-Reuters -- Verizon Communications Inc unveiled an Internet and wireless car service on Tuesday that lets drivers of older cars get help during a breakdown or find out about repairs and maintenance that might be needed.

The wireless company said at the Detroit auto show that it will make its "Verizon Vehicle" service available in the second quarter of this year. The subscription-based service will work on models dating back to 1996.

The monthly service charge for Verizon's new product aimed at modernizing older cars is $15, said Erik Goldman, president of Verizon Telematics.

The service is intended to help drivers of older cars, who can opt to receive alerts via text, call, smartphone notifications or email. Other features allow drivers to diagnose mechanical problems, talk to car mechanics in...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 15, 2015 By:

A guide to the inner workings of Opec

The National -- Opec was founded in 1960 to help governments gain a bigger share of revenue from oil production in their own countries. At the time, the oil companies in places such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela were owned by the oil majors – for example, Shell, Exxon and BP. The dominant global producer of oil was Texas and its ability to produce unlimited volumes enabled the international oil companies to drive hard bargains with the governments of the countries which would ultimately come to form Opec.

Opec was intended as a counterweight to Anglo-American dominance. For the exporting countries the early decades of Opec were scrappy – a fight against far better financed, politically connected and technologically sophisticated western oil companies.

But that fight ended more than 30 years ago. Opec...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 15, 2015 By:

Russia Is Losing Control Over The European Gas Market Read more

BusinessInsider -- Oil isn't Russia's only problem.

The energy exporter is losing its dominance over the European gas market.

In the past there were two factors that kept Russia as the major gas powerhouse: European policies and cold winters.

But both of those things have changed — and Russia is starting to explore non-Western countries.
Read more:  (read more)

Submitted Jan 15, 2015 By:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Driver behavior, speed blamed for I-94 pileup

Detroit Free Press-AP (VIDEO0 -- State transportation officials blame speed and driver behavior in a 193-vehicle pileup that killed one man and closed a stretch of Interstate 94 for two days.

State police are investigating Friday morning's chain-reaction crashes along Interstate 94 near Galesburg in eastern Kalamazoo County, 150 miles east of Chicago.

"This boiled down to driver behavior," Michigan Department of Transportation spokesman Nick Schirripa told the Kalamazoo Gazette. "People were driving too fast and following too closely on an icy freeway during a white-out."

A 57-year-old trucker from Quebec was killed and about two dozen people were taken to hospitals. A truck carrying fireworks caught fire, triggering an explosion. That driver wasn't hurt.

 (read more)

Submitted Jan 14, 2015 By:

National gas prices to soon fall below $2

USA Today -- Crude oil's global collapse is now expected to soon push the national average U.S. price for gasoline below $2 a gallon for the first time since early 2009.

The unprecedented sell-off in crude, which has pushed benchmark West Texas Intermediate and Brent Crude down more than 55% since mid-2014, has yet to run its course, says Tom Kloza, senior energy analyst for the Oil Price Information Service.

Nationally, regular unleaded gasoline currently averages about $2.12 a gallon, down 46 cents from just four weeks ago and $1.01 cheaper than year-ago levels.

Gas prices are also expected to fall more than previously forecast for the full year.

Kloza lowered his 2015 average gas price to about $2.45 a gallon, 15 cents less than his late 2014 forecast.

The cost savings is projected to slash  (read more)

Submitted Jan 14, 2015 By:

Americans are spending more than $2 billion less a week on gas than this time last year

The Washington Post -- Gas prices keep dropping lower and lower, returning to what The Post's Steven Mufson calls "the old normal" — the price range that we saw before the last eight years, which were abnormally high, historically speaking. The drop has resulted in a lot of analysis and a lot of explanation, but one thing we hadn't seen was a clear answer to the most important question: How much money are we actually saving?

We'll cheat and give you the answer before we show our work. Compared to the first week of 2014, Americans are spending $2.4 billion less each week on gasoline. That's about $7.50 per week for every person in America.

How'd we get that figure? The Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration offers data on gasoline supply (which translates to gas consumption) and on gasoline  (read more)

Submitted Jan 14, 2015 By:

Gas is less than $2 at most U.S. stations

CNN Money -- Gas for less than $2 a gallon is now available at most U.S. gas stations.

The percentage of stations with gas under two bucks now stands at 52%, according to the Oil Price Information Service, which tracks 130,000 gas stations for AAA.  (read more)

Submitted Jan 14, 2015 By:

Radicals cashing in on Alberta's oilsands to finance terror

CALGARY HERALD -- Before heading abroad to join extremist groups such as Islamic State, some Canadians have been stopping first in northern Alberta to earn money to finance their terrorist activities, the chief of the Edmonton police says.

“You can go up to Fort McMurray ... you’re relatively anonymous, you’re in one of those work camps and you can make a hockey sack of money in a very, very short period of time,” said Chief Rod Knecht.

At least three Canadians have worked short-term jobs in northern Alberta before joining Islamic State, including two from Ontario a Postmedia News investigation indicates. The RCMP said Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had also worked in the oilfields before his deadly attack in Ottawa.

With thousands of high-paying seasonal jobs, northern Alberta attracts workers from across Canada.  (read more)

Submitted Jan 14, 2015 By: