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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

16
votes
Obama Administration to Propose New Offshore Areas for Oil and Gas Drilling

WSJ -- WASHINGTON—The Obama administration is planning to propose opening up new areas of the nation’s federally owned waters to oil and natural gas drilling, including areas along the Atlantic Coast, according to people familiar with the plan.

The Interior Department is set to propose as soon as Tuesday its plan that will outline what leases the federal government will offer from 2017 to 2022, a step the government is required by law to take every five years.
The plan is expected to come under increased scrutiny as low oil prices are testing the profit margins of energy companies and President Barack Obama is pursuing an aggressive climate-change agenda.

Jessica Kershaw, an Interior Department spokeswoman, declined to comment Monday evening on the proposal.  (read more)

Submitted 38 minutes ago By:
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16
votes
Justice Department spies on millions of cars: WSJ

Reuters -- Reuters) - The Justice Department has been secretly gathering and storing hundreds of millions of records about motorists in an effort to build a national database that tracks the movement of vehicles across the country, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The newspaper said the main aim of the license plate tracking program run by the Drug Enforcement Administration was to seize automobiles, money and other assets to fight drug trafficking, according to one government document.

But the use of the database had expanded to include hunting for vehicles linked to other possible crimes, including kidnapping, killings and rape suspects, the paper said, citing current and former officials and government documents.

While U.S. officials have said they track vehicles near the Mexican bor  (read more)

Submitted 41 minutes ago By:
45 Comments

16
votes
America’s fracking ‘boom’ is having its worst months ever

Washington Post -- They threw a fracking party in Illinois, and hardly anyone showed up.

More precisely, two months after the state completed a long regulatory process and opened the door to hydraulic fracturing, only one company applied. The state hired 36 employees and five lawyers to handle the expected rush of applicants, reported the Chicago Tribune, “for work that doesn’t exist.”

This after a land rush by energy companies in Southern Illinois that saw them buy tens of thousands of acres anticipating a North Dakota-style energy boom that would create 10,000 jobs.

The disinterest is attributed to the sharp decline in oil and gas prices globally, which makes fracking unprofitable — at best a break-even proposition, at worst a big money-loser.

“Smart people don’t invest in things that break-even,” said  (read more)

Submitted 42 minutes ago By:
18 Comments

15
votes
Oil slides despite OPEC talk of a floor

Reuters -- Reuters) - Oil fell in see-saw trade on Monday, with U.S. crude ending at its lowest in nearly six years, as traders discounted comments from OPEC's top official about the market finally finding a bottom.

It was an up-and-down session for crude, which gyrated along with the U.S. dollar in the wake of a decisive Greek election victory by the left-wing Syriza party.

Prices initially rallied after OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri said oil may have hit a floor and could move higher very soon, the first comments he has made on the subject during crude's seven-month-long price rout.

But the gains proved fleeting as global benchmark Brent LCOc1 fell 1.3 percent to $48.16. U.S. crude CLc1 lost almost 1 percent, settling at $45.15, the lowest settlement price for the existing front-month  (read more)

Submitted 42 minutes ago By:
63 Comments

15
votes
As U.S. oil rig count falls, gas slump offers imperfect precedent

Reuters -- On Fri, oil-field service company Baker Hughes reported that oil rigs fell by 49 in the latest week to 1,317. The count has fallen 165 in Jan, the biggest 3-wk decline since 1987
But experts say output cuts do not necessarily follow a reduction in rig count. Some point to the 2008 crash in natural gas prices, when producers cut rigs but production actually increased
Thus far, the decline in oil rigs is almost identical to the drop in natural gas drilling in the 2nd half of 2008, when prices slid in 14 mth from $13.57/MBTU to a low $2.50
Oil rigs will be slashed by 650 in 9 mth, down 40% from their peak, which should reduce production
Falling away of US drilling activity and the rapid cuts across the world in non-OPEC supply suggest oil prices have fallen far below any sustainable level  (read more)

Submitted 42 minutes ago By:
66 Comments

Monday, January 26, 2015

55
votes
For Saudis, Falling Demand for Oil Is the Biggest Concern

Bloomberg -- As the world’s oil producers wring their hands over a global glut that’s pushing down prices, evidence is mounting that Saudi Arabia is more concerned about shrinking demand.

The world’s largest exporter has chosen not to cut production, counting instead on lower prices to stimulate consumption, said Mohammad Al Sabban, an adviser to Saudi Arabia’s petroleum minister from 1988 to 2013. The Saudis are keeping an eye on investments in fuel efficiency and renewable energy, according to Francisco Blanch, Bank of America Corp.’s head of global commodity research.

“Nobody should imagine the world will continue to demand oil as long as you have it in your fields” Al Sabban said in an interview. “We need to prepare ourselves for that stage.”

The U.S. shale revolution showed that forecasts of...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1392 Comments

51
votes
Local drivers don’t want gas tax to increase

Journal News -- With average gasoline prices at their lowest in years, some lawmakers are tinkering with a proposal to increase the federal gas tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1993.
The gas tax is 18.4 cents a gallon, and diesel fuel tax is 24.4 cents a gallon. The taxes bring in approximately $34 billion a year to the federal Highway Trust Fund, but the government spends about $50 billion a year. The trust fund has been the main source of federal transportation aid to states for more than 60 years.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
588 Comments

50
votes
Gas Prices Expected To Rise Again Soon, Say Experts

HNGN -- Despite the recent decline in gas prices across the country, experts expect them to rise due to the increase in crude oil prices.

The average gallon of gas in the United States dropped 13 cents in the past two weeks to $2.07 while crude oil prices have increased in the last 10 days, industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday, according to the Los Angeles Times. The price of gas is 37 percent lower than this time last year.

The Energy Department believes that the average U.S. family will spend $750 less on gas than in 2014 because the average price will decrease from $3.36 to $2.33. However, Lundberg said the increase in crude oil prices will eventually be seen at the pump, the Seattle Times reported.

The decrease in crude oil prices is a result of onshore oil fields in North Dakota  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1481 Comments

47
votes
Airasia Scraps Fuel Surcharges As Oil Price Plummets

AP -- Southeast Asia's biggest budget carrier AirAsia is scrapping fuel surcharges on tickets following the decline in global oil prices.

AirAsia said the move also applies to flights under its long-haul arm AirAsia X.

Oil prices are now below $50 per barrel after 6 months of declines, pushing down jet fuel prices.

Chief Executive Tony Fernandes said the move will help reduce travel costs, stimulate demand and boost tourism in the region.

Airlines impose the surcharges to pass on higher fuel costs to travelers when fuel prices are rising.

Rivals Virgin Australia and Cebu Pacific in the Philippines abolished fuel surcharges earlier this month.

AirAsia has dominated cheap travel in Southeast Asia for years but faces rising competition from the proliferation of discounts airlines in Asia.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
659 Comments

42
votes
'Not Mayberry anymore': Oil patch cops scramble to keep up

CBS News -- WATFORD CITY, N.D. (AP) — Police chief Art Walgren knew how much the oil boom had changed this once-sleepy town when he spotted something that would have been unheard of not long ago: license plates from Sinaloa, Mexico, home to one of the world's most violent drug cartels.

Before, there was little chance police would see cars here from nearly 2,000 miles away. And little reason to worry about out-of-state plates. Now, though, police are scrambling to deal with new kinds of suspicious activity and threats that have cropped up along this frozen prairie.

The gusher of oil and money flowing from the Bakken fields has made policing more demanding and dangerous, forcing small-town officers, county sheriffs and federal agents to confront everything from bar fights to far-reaching methamphetami  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
713 Comments

Sunday, January 25, 2015

57
votes
Long-term solution for wastewater disposal eludes shale gas industry

TRIBLIVE -- Defining wastewater disposal in the Marcellus shale fields has been a moving target.

Drillers initially sent millions of gallons to public water treatment plants, until regulators said the plants were not equipped to properly clean the salt- and metal-laden water that comes from shale gas wells. The traditional method of injecting it back into deep wells is less feasible in Pennsylvania, which has few such wells, and Ohio is accepting less wastewater because of potential links between injection and earthquakes.

The search for a solution has spawned an industry of companies and innovators looking for ways to treat or reuse the wastewater that environmentalists feared would foul drinking supplies.

“They can barge all this water somewhere else or reuse it, which is what we're seeing now,”  (read more)

Submitted Jan 25, 2015 By:
1386 Comments

55
votes
Minnesota drivers: Get ready for more roundabouts

Star Tribune -- Circle the (station) wagons — more roundabouts are on the way. Roundabouts are taking on a prominent role in Minnesota’s transportation planning. More than 140 have been built since the state’s first roundabout opened 20 years ago in Brooklyn Park, with the pace picking up rapidly in recent years. Another 40 are either under construction or in planning. There are dozens of roundabouts in the Twin Cities, but you’ll also find them in places like Fergus Falls, Grand Rapids, Rochester and Worthington. Blue Earth is getting three, and six are on the drawing board for Mankato. Studies have shown that roundabouts have significant advantages over four-way intersections controlled by traffic signals. Roundabouts have fewer accidents overall, and far fewer that result in death or serious injury. Th  (read more)

Submitted Jan 25, 2015 By:
1553 Comments

51
votes
Canada Report: Collapse in oil prices prompts move to stabilize economy

Tampa Bay Times -- The rapid collapse of oil prices has prompted the Bank of Canada to cut its trendsetting interest rate to stabilize the economy.

"The drop in oil prices is unambiguously negative for the Canadian economy" central bank governor Stephen Poloz said as the rate fell to 0.75 percent from 1 percent, which it had been at for four years.

As an oil-producing nation — the U.S. buys more crude from Canada than from any other country — the economic impact of cheap fuel threatens Canada's economic rebound and a return to a balanced federal budget.

So far Canada's commercial banks have made no move to lower their prime-lending rate still at 3 percent.

The rate cut immediately caused the Canadian dollar to fall by about 3 cents from a week ago to the 80-cent U.S. range, but it boosted stock markets.  (read more)

Submitted Jan 25, 2015 By:
212 Comments

50
votes
Why Oil Prices May Not Recover Anytime Soon

Motley Fool -- There is a sharp split among energy experts about the future direction of oil prices. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal recently stated that oil prices could keep falling for quite a while and opined that $100 a barrel oil will never come back. Earlier this month, investment bank Goldman Sachs weighed in by slashing its short-term oil price target from $80 a barrel all the way to $42 a barrel.

But there are still plenty of optimists like billionaire T. Boone Pickens, who has vocally argued that oil will bounce back to $100 a barrel within 12 months-18 months. Pickens thinks that Saudi Arabia will eventually give in and cut production. However, this may be wishful thinking. Supply and demand fundamentals point to more lean times ahead for oil producers.

Oil supply is comfortably ahead of de  (read more)

Submitted Jan 25, 2015 By:
64 Comments

46
votes
The Oil Price Tag That Investors Say Would Signal a Global Recession

Forbes -- The decline of oil prices to less than $50 a barrel has an undeniably positive effect on the global economy. From the U.S. to China, people are driving more and spending more, a much needed economic boost in generally glum times.

But to investors, a too-low oil price can also be a sign of trouble. The price of oil has certainly dropped because of an increase in supply – specifically, OPEC’s refusal to cut production and the vast amount of shale oil and gas being pumped in the United States. But the price of oil is also a product of slowing economic growth and declining demand, especially from China, Japan and the Eurozone.
...
So what exactly is too low when it comes to oil prices? According to a recent survey of investors, the tipping point may be around $30.

 (read more)

Submitted Jan 25, 2015 By:
747 Comments

Saturday, January 24, 2015

58
votes
Some homes near Montana oil spill report dark ooze after flushing taps

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/24/us-usa-oilspill-montana-idUSKBN0KX04T20150124?rpc=401 -- Residents of a Montana town whose water supply was tainted by an oil pipeline rupture last week got the all-clear on Friday to turn taps back on, though some reported brown or black material spurting from faucets even after their pipes were flushed.

Drinking supplies for some 6,000 people in and around the community of Glendive became contaminated last Saturday when an estimated 1,200 barrels of crude oil was spilled into the Yellowstone River from a pipeline breach several miles upstream from the northeastern Montana town.

Initial testing of Glendive's water, which is drawn from the river, showed levels of benzene, a cancer-causing constituent of petroleum, well above levels considered safe for human health by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Results of subsequent testing...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 24, 2015 By:
1346 Comments

53
votes
Exxon gets $1 million penalty for Yellowstone River spill

CBS News -- BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal officials have issued a $1 million penalty against Exxon Mobil Corp. for safety violations stemming from a pipeline rupture in 2011 that spilled 63,000 gallons of crude into Montana's Yellowstone River.

The Department of Transportation order issued Friday reduces the penalty as originally proposed by about $700,000. That comes after the Irving, Texas-based oil company challenged some claims that it didn't do enough to prevent the accident.

The pipeline break during summer flooding near Laurel left oil along an 85-mile stretch of the Yellowstone, killing fish and wildlife and prompting a cleanup that took months.

Safety regulators said in part that Exxon Mobil had failed to adequately heed warnings that its 20-year-old Silvertip Pipeline was at risk.

The c  (read more)

Submitted Jan 24, 2015 By:
1456 Comments

50
votes
Oil Falls to Lowest Since '09 as Saudis Signal Continuity

Kazinform -- Oil fell to the lowest in almost six years on speculation the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia won't signal any change in strategy for the world's largest crude exporter.
U.S. benchmark oil futures slid 1.6 percent reversing an initial gain of as much as 3.1 percent. Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud who succeeds Abdullah on the throne, said he would maintain his predecessor's policies. The kingdom will not cut production to boost prices because other producers would fill in the gap, Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud said. U.S. crude inventories rose the most since 2001 last week, according to a government report on Thursday.

"There already has been a pretty well established succession plan so it's not a big deal" said Kyle Cooper director of commodities research at IAF Advisors...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 24, 2015 By:
976 Comments

49
votes
$2 gasoline: Good times keep rolling at the pump

Detroit News -- At some point this will end, perhaps even soon. The price of gasoline will not fall to zero.

But for the first time since 2009, most Americans are paying less than $2 a gallon. Just three months ago, experts were shocked when it fell under $3.

According to fuel forecaster GasBuddy.com, motorists in Michigan are seeing the greatest savings nationwide; on average they’re paying $1.36 less today than they paid one year ago.

On Friday, the average price per gallon of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $1.93.

“It’s crazy,” said Michael Noel, an economics professor at Texas Tech University who studies oil and gasoline prices. “But for consumers it’s very, very good.”

Consumers and the economies of the U.S. and most of the rest of the world are basking in the lowest prices for  (read more)

Submitted Jan 24, 2015 By:
88 Comments

48
votes
TD expert tells Canadian oil producers to brace for a second shock

The Globe and Mail - OTTAWA -- Canada’s oil producers are being told to brace for more bad news, even as they struggle to cope with a collapse that has driven prices down by 60% from their peak last Jun
With global production continuing to exceed demand, crude prices are set to head lower and WTI should average just $41 in the 1st half of this year, TD economist said in a report Fri. She expects WTI prices to sink below $40 as bulging inventories weigh on the market in the next few months
“Oil prices are likely follow more of a U-shaped recovery pattern than the V-shaped pattern that typically follows such sharp price declines. The U.S. benchmark to average just $53 in the 2nd half of the year, and $65 next year
Crude prices fell another 70 cents Fri to $45.60 and lost more than $3 on the week amid further evidence that  (read more)

Submitted Jan 24, 2015 By:
50 Comments

Friday, January 23, 2015

48
votes
Alabama man ticketed in Georgia for 'eating while driving'

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..abc13.comAn Alabama man says he was cited by Cobb County police for “eating while driving” under the distracted driving law. Madison Turner said he ordered a double quarter pounder with cheese from McDonald’s last week, and a police officer pulled him over, along Canton Road in Marietta.“The officer explained to me that he observed me eating a burger for 2 miles,” Madison said. “He said specifically three times, you can’t just go down the road eating a hamburger.”According to the ticket, the officer wrote him up under Georgia’s distracted driving law, and under the comments sections wrote “eating while driving.” ...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 23, 2015 By:
1849 Comments

47
votes
Into thin air: Boston pipes leak $90 million in fuel yearly - study

reuters.com -- Boston's aging pipeline network leaks about $90 million worth of natural gas each year, marking a sizeable financial loss and a threat to the environment, according to a study released on Thursday by Harvard researchers.

The findings come as state energy officials struggle with a regional infrastructure shortfall that has left Massachusetts tight on winter heating fuel supplies during harsh cold snaps over the past three years.

"Some 2.7 percent of the gas that is brought to the Boston region never makes it to customers, it escapes into the atmosphere," according to the study, which will be published Thursday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Using sophisticated air monitoring equipment at locations around the city, researches from Harvard's School of Engineering

 (read more)

Submitted Jan 23, 2015 By:
1019 Comments

47
votes
US crude oil drops 3% to settle at $46.31

CNBC -- Crude oil futures tumbled on Thursday after the Energy Information Administration announced the largest build in U.S. crude stocks in at least 14 years.

U.S. crude settled at $46.31 per barrel, down 3.1 percent on the day, having reached a high of $49.09 earlier in the session. Brent crude futures last traded at $48.50 a barrel, down 44 cents, off a session peak of $50.45.

Crude stocks rose by 10.1 million barrels to a total of 397.9 million, the highest level for this time of year in at least 80 years, the EIA said. The increase was much greater than the 2.6 million barrel build traders predicted in a Reuters poll.

Read MoreOPEC Secretary General: Oil to remain at low levels for a month

The market was waiting for a catalyst like the EIA report to break out either positive or negative,  (read more)

Submitted Jan 23, 2015 By:
275 Comments

45
votes
Ford Diesel Trucks Are Subject Of US Investigation Over Stalling Problem

IBTimes -- The U.S. government is investigating whether Ford Motor’s recall of nearly 3,000 heavy-duty diesel trucks, used by ambulance services, should be expanded to all of the trucks the company sold from the 2011 and 2012 model years.

Ford Motor’s previous recall involved 2,951 F-350, F-450 and F-550 trucks, that were part of its “Ambulance Package” and are equipped with 6.7-liter diesel engines that would stall or fail to restart because of a malfunctioning sensor.  (read more)

Submitted Jan 23, 2015 By:
976 Comments

44
votes
What now for oil after Saudi king's death?

CNN -- Oil prices were 2% higher following the death of Saudi Arabia's king, a reaction that was muted by the widespread expectation of a smooth leadership transition and stable oil policy in the world's largest exporter of petroleum.

Crude oil is now trading just above $47 a barrel.

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud's health had been deteriorating in recent weeks, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency. He was king of Saudi Arabia since 2005 and celebrated his 90th birthday in August.

The transfer of power should be smooth. His half-brother Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud will assume the throne, Saudi state television reported.

"I don't anticipate the Kingdom to make any dramatic changes in its oil policy in the short term," said Fahad Nazer, a former political analyst at the Em  (read more)

Submitted Jan 23, 2015 By:
1523 Comments