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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

55
votes
Why OPEC can't kill the U.S. oil boom

CNN Money -- OPEC all but declared "mission accomplished" this week in its efforts to thwart U.S. oil production.

In a report Monday, the cartel predicted the U.S. shale oil boom could be over by the end of 2015.

The world has too much oil production at the moment, and it has caused crude oil prices to meltdown from over $100 a barrel in the summer to under $45 now -- a six-year low.

Someone needs to scale back, but OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, has refused to make cuts in an effort to squeeze American shale producers.

OPEC is claiming an early victory by pointing to declines in the number of U.S. drilling rigs and significant cuts in big energy's spending plans as evidence the U.S. is caving.

American shale here to stay: Yet OPEC is underestimating one of the most important characteristics of shal  (read more)

Submitted Mar 18, 2015 By:
1626 Comments

51
votes
Exxon, union trade proposals for longer Beaumont refinery contract

REUTERS -- Exxon Mobil Corp and the United Steelworkers union traded proposals on Tuesday for a labor contract covering Exxon's refinery in Beaumont, Texas, that could be for as long as seven or eight years, union officials said.

That would be roughly double the length of the contract under a tentative national agreement reached last week, which would cover about 30,000 workers for four years.

Exxon had been pushing for a five-year contract for hourly workers at the 344,600 barrel per day (bpd) Beaumont refinery, which is the company's third-largest. Work at the refinery has continued during labor negotiations under an extension of the prior contract.

Sources familiar with Exxon's plans have said the longer agreement was sought, in part, because the company is considering an expansion at the...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 18, 2015 By:
615 Comments

50
votes
Republicans change their minds about pushing fracking in state parks

dispatch.com -- Ohio’s state parks are safe from fracking after a legislative panel pulled the controversial provision on Tuesday.

Almost as significant: The rare defeat of the oil and gas industry came after genuine cooperation between Democrats and Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly.

“It’s a big win for the people of the state of Ohio,” said Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus.

The measure is set for a vote by the full House on Wednesday, where approval is expected.

But the whole thing almost didn’t happen.

...An amendment from the Democrats to protect parks from fracking came together shortly before the committee convened in a Statehouse basement hearing room. Once the panel convened, it immediately recessed so the Republicans who control the committee could caucus privately for about 15 minutes

 (read more)

Submitted Mar 18, 2015 By:
378 Comments

48
votes
Talisman Energy Inc, Nexen Energy ULC fire hundreds of employees in ‘Bloody Tuesday’

Financial Post - CALGARY -- St. Patrick’s Day turned into “bloody Tuesday” in Calgary as major companies Talisman and Nexen — both recently acquired by foreign operators — axed hundreds of employees, adding to the surge of energy sector jobs cut as a result of low oil prices
Talisman, the international oil and gas producer that has been purchased by Spain’s Repsol, said 10% to 15% of its employees and contractors would be laid off this week, or about 150 to 200 of 1,300 Calgary head-office jobs that support its global operations
Nexen, a subsidiary of China’s CNOOC, also announced 400 job cuts – 300 of them in Calgary. The job losses represent 14.5% of the company’s total Canadian head count
Data released Friday by Statistics Canada showed that collapsed oil prices are taking a bite out of Alberta’s job numbers, as t  (read more)

Submitted Mar 18, 2015 By:
830 Comments

46
votes
Judge Overturns Broadview Heights Ban on Drilling

Cleveland Scene -- Following similar judicial orders of late, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Astrab ruled that Bass Energy of Fairlawn and Ohio Valley Energy of Austintown, among other such outfits, will be allowed to drill new wells in Broadview Heights.

The ruling is notable not only for its timely complement to the Ohio Supreme Court’s Munroe Falls decision, but also because Broadview Heights was one of a handful of Ohio cities that had a voter-approved Community Bill of Rights in its charter. That ballot issue reserved residents’ rights to clean air and water and, i.e., banned oil and gas drilling from its point of passage onward. Bass Energy and Ohio Valley Energy sued the city, challenging that charter amendment.  (read more)

Submitted Mar 18, 2015 By:
261 Comments

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

52
votes
Why gasoline and oil prices could slide again

CBS money watch -- The epic meltdown in energy prices has more recently been taking a bit of a breather.

Just look at gasoline, which collapsed nearly 61 percent from its high last summer to the low in January before reversing and zooming higher, climbing 61 percent earlier this month. Crude oil rebounded as well: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) jumped 24 percent from $43.58 a barrel to a high of $53.99 in early February.

But the evidence is building that another bout of weakness is about to hit energy prices -- with mixed benefits to consumers, the economy and stocks.

For gasoline, the rebound was fueled by a combination of factors, including the largest refinery strike in 35 years -- affecting a fifth of the country's capacity -- as well as a refinery fire in California and seasonal formulation changes...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 17, 2015 By:
1150 Comments

44
votes
Falling oil prices pull gasoline prices again

USA Today -- Gasoline prices — which nearly dropped below $2 a gallon nationally in January before spiking almost 25% higher — could soon test multiyear lows again.

U.S. benchmark West Texas crude sank to $42.85 early Monday before settling off 2.1% to $43.88 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a six-year low. Brent crude, the international benchmark, eased 2.3% to $53.44 in the wake of a burgeoning global supply glut and prospects of even more oil coming to market with a possible nuclear accord with Iran paving the way for higher Iranian exports.

The renewed slide in crude pushed U.S. wholesale gasoline prices for mid-April delivery down 2% to $1.72 a gallon. Currently, retail prices, down nine straight days, average $2.42 a gallon, up from $2.25 a month ago, after falling to $2.02 in late January.  (read more)

Submitted Mar 17, 2015 By:
1553 Comments

43
votes
Great Lakes Pain At The Pump... Temporarily

GasBuddy Blog -- Refinery Status MapMotorists in the Great Lakes, take note- gasoline prices have begun inching forward, and are likely to remain on an upward trend for the next week or two.

Much of the blame lays with two main issues: 1) refinery problems at several regional refineries that has caused these facilities to partially shut parts of their plant, and is so problematic that these refiners, who have contracts to supply gasoline to gas stations, are trying to find gasoline and buy it from other major refiners. Though this does happen from time to time, when two major refiners are heard to be buying gasoline themselves, it paints a bleak supply picture, and causes prices to rise, like we're about to see. 2) The switch over to summer gasoline finished over the weekend, and that summer gasoline is pricier than what we've been transitioning from the last few weeks. Combine the two issues and it's led to tight supply.

The bad news? Retail gas prices will increase th  (read more)

Submitted Mar 17, 2015 By:
1784 Comments

43
votes
U.S. refinery deal hits roadblocks at eight striking plants

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-Reuters -- A tentative national agreement to end a six-week strike at 12 U.S. refineries has struggled to win ratification at eight plants as workers and companies struggle to settle local issues, according to union officials.

The deal reached on Thursday by the United Steelworkers (USW) and lead industry negotiator Royal Dutch Shell Plc to end the biggest walkout of its kind in 35 years is showing signs of quick passage at just four plants.

The four sites where the deal is finding support and progress is being made on local issues are at facilities owned or co-owned by Shell.

Workers at these plants, which include three Motiva Enterprises refineries, have scheduled or are expected to hold votes this week to ratify the agreement. They could be back at work next week.

But local labor talks were...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 17, 2015 By:
907 Comments

42
votes
Stay responsible: celebrate St. Patick's Day, just don't drink & drive

GasBuddy Blog -- Few holidays are as deadly as St. Patrick's Day.  Irish or not, everybody's luck runs out and only a fool could delude himself into thinking he's capable of driving safely after consuming alcohol.  
You're smarter than that. Unfortunately, March 17 has become a deadly day in the United States, with a dramatic spike in drunk-driving fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during the St. Patrick’s Day weekend in 2013 (6 p.m., March 16 to 5:59 a.m., March 18), more than a third (40 percent) of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. The night of March 17—St. Patrick’s Day—was especially bad. In the post-celebration hours between midnight and 5:59 a.m. March 18, half of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers.
And we’re not just talking about a little bit too much to drink here; from 2009 to 2013, almost three-fourths of the drunk-driving fatalities on St. Patrick’s Day involved drivers who were twice the legal limit.  (read more)

Submitted Mar 17, 2015 By:
2348 Comments

Monday, March 16, 2015

64
votes
U.S. oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens tells Canada: I’m sorry for Obama’s handling of Keystone

FINANCIAL POST-Postmedia News -- To my friends in Calgary and across Canada: I apologize on behalf of my fellow Americans for the United States government’s actions.

Why? Because after years of poring over the engineering, design, geology and the contents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, President Barack Obama chose to make a political statement and vetoed a bill to allow construction to begin.

I feel bad about this. I lived in Canada in the 1960s. You have a great country, and it’s a great place to operate in the oil and gas sector. We should have done better by you.

You may not follow the ins and outs of the U.S. Congress as much as we do, but you probably know Keystone was a bipartisan bill. Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate voted for it. That was big news, as Democrats and Republicans...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 16, 2015 By:
1232 Comments

54
votes
Gas prices expected to stay low into summer

The Columbus Dispatch -- NEW YORK — The price of U.S. oil is on yet another ride down as swelling global supplies overwhelm rising but still relatively weak demand.

The price has fallen close to the lowest in six years, and many expect it to fall much further in the coming weeks because supplies are still heading up and the summer driving season is months away.

The lower crude prices mean gasoline prices will slide in the coming weeks, and many drivers will probably pay less than $2 a gallon in the summer for the first time since 2004.

Oil prices had seemed to stabilize in a range almost 15 percent higher than the depths they reached in late January. But the International Energy Agency yesterday called a recent rise in oil prices a “head fake” and a “facade of stability.”

“The rebalancing (of supply and demand  (read more)

Submitted Mar 16, 2015 By:
1506 Comments

53
votes
Oil prices slip again as inventories continue to build up

The National -- Oil prices look set to remain under pressure as supply chugs along while inventories in major economies continue their relentless rise.

The steepest decline so far this year was registered in the past week, with world benchmark North Sea Brent crude falling by more than 4 per cent on Friday alone to end at US$54.67 per barrel, reversing some of the gains of nearly 20 per cent made during the recovery in January and February, when Brent pushed above $60.

Yesterday, Ibrahim Al Muhanna, a former spokesman for Ali Al Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, and still an adviser to the ministry, offered some soothing words about the outlook for oil prices. Speaking in Doha, Qatar, he said that “demand is and will be stronger” and suggested that “Saudi Arabia has never been in a price war with...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 16, 2015 By:
1442 Comments

48
votes
Fight over keystone XL project dosn't stall pipeline boom

AP -- WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a far corner of North Dakota, just a few hundred miles from the proposed path of the Keystone XL pipeline, 84,000 barrels of crude oil per day recently began flowing through a new line that connects the state's sprawling oilfields to an oil hub in Wyoming.

In West Texas, engineers activated a new pipeline that cuts diagonally across the state to deliver crude from the oil-rich Permian Basin to refineries near Houston. And in a string of towns in Kansas, Iowa and South Dakota, local government officials are scrutinizing the path of pipeline extensions that would pass nearby.

While the Keystone project awaits a final decision, scenes like these are unfolding almost every week in lesser-known developments that have quietly added more than 11,600 miles of pipeline to th  (read more)

Submitted Mar 16, 2015 By:
111 Comments

46
votes
Why Gas Prices Are Set to Drop (Again)

Fiscal Times -- You've heard the adage: If something's too good to be true, it probably is. That's probably how many felt when gasoline prices collapsed nearly 61 percent from their high last summer to the low in January. Here in the Seattle area, we saw retail prices below $2 a gallon for the first time since the recession.

Just as quickly as they dropped, though, gas prices reversed course and zoomed higher, climbing 61 percent to a recent high set earlier this month. What was odd was that while crude oil prices rebounded as well, the improvement was on a much smaller scale: West Texas Intermediate rebounded 24 percent from $43.58 a barrel to a high of $53.99 in early February.
 (read more)

Submitted Mar 16, 2015 By:
93 Comments

Sunday, March 15, 2015

62
votes
Where do Pennsylvania oil and gas drillers get their pipe?

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette -- State Sen. Jim Brewster was angry when he heard in June that U.S. Steel was about to close a plant in McKeesport that made pipe to transport natural gas.

“When I have a plant shut down with 175 to 200 jobs, I have a problem with that,” said Mr. Brewster, a Democrat who is a former mayor of McKeesport and whose late father worked at a pipe plant in the city.

When he heard from U.S. Steel officials that a big part of the reason for shutting down the plant was that the oil and gas industry here was buying a lot of pipe made in other countries, he got angrier. Before that, Mr. Brewster said, “I hadn’t given much thought to where the pipe was coming from.”

There is no requirement that drillers use domestic steel, but Mr. Brewster believed the industry should work to provide American jobs.

 (read more)

Submitted Mar 15, 2015 By:
1491 Comments

55
votes
US warns Western oil workers in KSA of attacks

The Nation -- Western oil workers in Saudi Arabia risk being attacked or kidnapped by ‘terrorist’ groups in the OPEC kingpin, the US embassy in Riyadh said in a warning posted online.

The US mission said it ‘has information stating that, as of early March, individuals associated with a terrorist organisation could be targeting Western oil workers, possibly to include those US citizens working for oil companies in the Eastern Province, for an attack(s) and/or kidnapping(s)’. The statement, which was published on the embassy website late on Friday, did not identify the source of the threats and said no details were available on the planned attacks.

Saudi Arabia is taking part in US-led air strikes that began in September against the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria, raising concerns about possible.  (read more)

Submitted Mar 15, 2015 By:
1221 Comments

49
votes
Why are gas prices in Michiana, the Midwest more volatile than they are elsewhere?

Elkhartruth --
It’s a largely midwestern phenomenon that academics and analysts have documented and studied. Matthew Lewis, associate professor of economics at Clemson University, calls it “price cycling.”

“In many cities in the Midwest, stations have gotten themselves into a competitive pattern where they undercut each other pretty aggressively,” Lewis said. “When they get to the point that they’re not making much profit, they raise the price again.”

Lewis has found that Speedway’s large number of stations in Midwestern states such as Indiana allows it to make centralized pricing decisions which are followed, often within the same day, by their competitors.  (read more)

Submitted Mar 15, 2015 By:
241 Comments

47
votes
After oil spills, feds order valve replacements on 6,000 tank cars

Fuel Fix -- — The Federal Railroad Administration on Friday ordered the owners of an estimated 6,000 tank cars to replace unapproved valves that have caused oil to leak from trains hauling crude.

According to the agency, “multiple investigations” turned up examples of the unauthorized valve’s use, including in a Jan. 11 incident in which oil spilled from 16 crude-carrying cars while they traveled from Tioga, N.D. to the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Wash.

Tank car owners now have 60 days to replace the 3-inch threaded ball valve in question and have been given 90 days to replace some 37,000 identically designed 1- and 2-inch valves which have not been blamed for any leaks. All of the valves were manufactured and sold by McKenzie Valve and Machining — and none were approved by the Association of Amer  (read more)

Submitted Mar 15, 2015 By:
836 Comments

41
votes
Oil prices stabilizing, will continue to firm up: Saudi adviser

Reuters -- (Reuters) - Oil prices have started to stabilize around $60 a barrel in past weeks and will continue to firm up, while crude demand will grow stronger, an adviser to Saudi Arabia's oil minister said on Sunday.

The comments by Saudi oil adviser Ibrahim al-Muhanna suggested that the top oil exporter sees no need to reverse its policy of allowing the market to correct itself without cutting output, despite the steep price drop since June last year.

Kuwait's OPEC governor said last week that OPEC was likely to extend its current production policy at the June meeting, in the first public comment on what will be a crucial decision determining the direction of global oil prices in the second half of this year.

It is still too early to say if OPEC will keep its output ceiling unchanged when the  (read more)

Submitted Mar 15, 2015 By:
79 Comments

Saturday, March 14, 2015

52
votes
U.S. adding 5 million barrels of oil to its reserves because of cheap prices

Marketwatch -- If anybody tells you we’re running out of oil, don’t tell that to Uncle Sam.
The U.S. is sitting on about 691 million barrels of oil in its Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), and with oil prices close to a five-year low set in January, the U.S. is looking to buy even more, soliciting bids for 5 million barrels of oil, worth about $224 million at the closing price on Friday, March 13, of $44.84 on NYMEX.
The Department of Energy said it plans to buy sweet crude for delivery for its Freeport, Texas, site between June 1 and July 31 and perhaps as early as May, according to a federal website.
The SPR is composed of four giant underground oil fields in Texas and Louisiana, and it sits awaiting a call from the president, in case oil supplies are disrupted.
But if you think when gasoline pric  (read more)

Submitted Mar 14, 2015 By:
1230 Comments

51
votes
Oil drops 9 percent on week on stronger dollar, glut warning

Reuters -- Reuters) - Global oil prices tumbled on Friday and fell 9 percent on the week, hit by a renewed rally in the dollar and a warning by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that the oil glut is growing.

Data that showed a sharp drop in the number of U.S. rigs drilling for oil failed to inspire market bulls.

Benchmark Brent oil settled near a one-month low below $55 a barrel and U.S. crude settled near a 2-1/2 month low under $45.

The dollar hit a 12-year high in its march toward parity with the euro, jacking up the cost of oil and other dollar-denominated commodities for holders of other currencies. The 19-commodity Thomson Reuters/Core Commodity CRB Index .TRJCRB fell a six-year low.

"We aim to break the year's low in crude next week," said Tariq Zahir, an oil bear at Tyche Capital Advi  (read more)

Submitted Mar 14, 2015 By:
763 Comments

50
votes
Solar power and natural gas battle it out

FloridaToday -- Maybe you caught the news last week that Florida Power & Light will be lowering its monthly residential bills by about $3 a month beginning in May, assuming it gets permission from the state’s Public Service Commission.

That follows an FPL announcement last year that beginning in January residential bills would fall by $2 a month.

And who do we owe for this windfall? Natural gas.

Because of better domestic production methods — aka ‘fracking’ — the United State’s is swimming in natural gas and that means the prices have dropped considerably. Because natural gas is the main fuel FPL uses for its enormous generators, that it means consumer and business energy costs also have fallen.  (read more)

Submitted Mar 14, 2015 By:
162 Comments

47
votes
Tentative refinery deal bodes well for drivers

CBS money watch -- It appears a widespread oil refinery strike, the first labor dispute of its kind in decades to affect oil production across the nation, may be winding down.

On Thursday, the United Steel Steelworkers union (USW), which represents workers at 65 refineries that are responsible for about two-thirds of all oil production in the U.S., said it had reached a tentative agreement with Shell Oil (RDS.A), which has been representing the oil companies involved in the dispute.

If approved, that agreement would pave the way for a resolution of the six-week-long strike that has affected 15 oil facilities in California, Kentucky and Texas -- including seven refineries that account for 10 percent of U.S. refining capacity.

While wages and health care programs, as well as plant repair and maintenance,...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 14, 2015 By:
935 Comments

46
votes
Shell CEO's total pay soars to $25.7 million

REUTERS -- Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) Chief Executive Ben van Beurden will earn a total 24.2 million euros (17.53 million pounds) for 2014, making him one of the highest-earning FTSE 100 bosses despite last year's sharp fall in oil prices.

Van Beurden's total pay includes 5.6 million euros in salary, bonus and shares plus pension and other items, the company said on Thursday.

His 2014 compensation, when calculated in British pounds, places him as the second-highest-paid senior executive on the FTSE 100 share index after WPP (WPP.L) chief executive Martin Sorrell, whose 2013 pay package reached 29.8 million pounds, according to think tank High Pay Centre.

Shell chief financial officer Simon Henry's total remuneration rose by 46 percent in 2014 from a year earlier to 6.485 million euros.

 (read more)

Submitted Mar 14, 2015 By:
127 Comments