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Monday, March 30, 2015

Illegal Gas Siphoning May Have Caused East Village Explosion

Gothamist -- Thursday's explosion in the East Village may have been caused by repeated attempts to illegally siphon gas from commercial to residential tenants.
The owner of Sushi Park at 121 Second Avenue, Hyeonil Kim, told the Times that he and his employees reported a gas leak back in August. Con Edison responded and found that "gas intended for the restaurant was being siphoned off — he called it illegal gas-tapping — for use in the newly renovated apartments upstairs."
The landlord, Maria Hrynenko, then sent a plumber to fix the pipes, which resulted in a brief interruption of gas service for the tenants upstairs.
Kim told the Times that he suspected that the landlord began siphoning gas from the property she owned next door, 119 Second Avenue, the former space of East Noodle & Izakaya.
After smell  (read more)

Submitted 20 minutes ago By:

U.S. Oil Glut Story Grossly Exaggerated

Yahoo -- Recently, I have noticed that oil storage & production data (and media hype for that matter) has disconnected from hard data. This has been occurring for many quarters now with the US economy statistics as well and appears to be the new world order where facts can be spun or massaged to any one’s wishes.

It’s called the “age of propaganda” where truth matters little and comes out later in so called revisions. Take the recent spate of economic data points from the Kansas City Fed which said that economic activity not only stalled but was negative at -4 vs expectations of +1. The recent durable goods statistics also show contraction as well.

Yet we see the services PMI at a 6 month high. How can these divergences be possible? Well for one, some statistics are hard while others are estimate  (read more)

Submitted 20 minutes ago By:

Oil prices fall as Iran, world powers seek nuclear deal

Yahoo -- Oil prices fell on Monday, extending steep losses from the previous session, as Iran and six world powers tried to reach a deal that could add oil to the market if sanctions against Tehran are lifted.

The two sides tried to break an impasse in nuclear negotiations on Sunday ahead of a deadline to find a preliminary agreement by Tuesday, exploring compromises in a number of areas.

Benchmark Brent crude futures (LCOc1) had dropped to $56.04 by 0320 GMT, down 37 cents after falling 5 percent on Friday as the market began to price in the possibility of a deal with Iran. Front-month U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures (CLc1) were down 76 cents to $48.11 a barrel.  (read more)

Submitted 21 minutes ago By:

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Exports helping Nebraska's ethanol industry to grow

The Independent -- Nebraska’s 2 billion-gallon-a-year ethanol industry is growing in international stature.

Last year Nebraska’s ethanol agribusiness processed 657 million bushels of corn last year. While that corn made more than 2 billion gallons of ethanol, it also produced 18 pounds of distillers grain per bushel of corn.
Distillers grains are a cereal byproduct of the distillation process. The byproduct has established itself not only as an important source of livestock feed, but a growing export product, along with ethanol itself, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

And 2014 was a record export year for distillers grains and ethanol.

According to the RFA, the U.S. ethanol industry produced 14.3 billion gallons in 2014 — a 7.4 percent increase over the previous year.

At the end of  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Oil analysts haven’t been this divided in 8 years: What’s an investor to do?

Bloomberg News -- Standard Chartered Plc’s Paul Horsnell forecasts oil will rise to $90 in the fourth quarter. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Francisco Blanch predicts $58. Six months ago, they were just $1 apart.

That sudden divergence highlights a growing trend: Energy analysts are the most divided in at least 8 years on the direction of Brent, the global benchmark. Forecasters failed to predict the plunge that cut oil prices by more than half after the U.S. shale boom boosted output to a three-decade high. OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, relinquished its traditional role adjusting production to moderate price swings in an effort to maintain market share.

This has left analysts split over how much and how quickly low prices will force U.S. producers to shut, making their jo  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

With Proposal 1, more fuel tax money will go to roads

Detroit Free Press -- Getting more road-repair bang for the fuel tax buck is a central thrust of Proposal 1, which goes to voters May 5.

On a $3 gallon of gas, motorists pay close to 18 cents in state sales tax, which doesn't get spent on roads.

If Proposal 1 passes, sales tax would no longer be applied to fuel sales. It would be replaced with a higher fuel tax, which would get spent predominantly on roads.

Bills that would be triggered into law if the proposal passes would remove the 19-cent-per-gallon tax on regular fuel and the 15-cent-per-gallon tax on diesel fuel and replace both with a single, percentage-based fuel tax that could never drop below 41.7 cents per gallon and would increase with inflation.

Removal of the sales tax means the impact of that hefty rise in the fuel tax will be significantly s  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Exxon unit asks for exception to North Dakota gas flare rule

The San Antonio -- A subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corp. is asking state regulators to grant an exception to the amount of natural gas companies are permitted to burn off at 140 of its oil wells in Dunn and McKenzie counties.

The state's Oil and Gas Division heard the request from XTO Energy this week in which the company argues it has nowhere to take its gas. This is because OneOK, a gas-processing company, couldn't secure an easement agreement and build a 20-mile pipeline expansion. OneOK said the pipeline would have moved 40 million cubic feet per day to their Garden Creek gas plant in McKenzie County.

The request will now be forwarded to the state Industrial Commission, which earlier this week more clearly defined gas-capture rules, imposing penalties for noncompliance and establishing flexibility to...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Duke Energy CEO Loses $600K In Pay Over Coal Ash Pollution

AP -- Duke Energy Corp. CEO Lynn Good saw her pay docked about $600,000 in the aftermath of last year's massive spill of collected coal ash that coated 70 miles of a North Carolina river in sludge containing toxic heavy metals.

A portion of Good's $8.3 million compensation was reduced 35 percent in 2014 compensation, according to a proxy statement released this week ahead of the company's annual shareholder meeting in May. The compensation of four other top executives that is linked to short-term incentives was also reduced 35 percent.

Directors of the country's largest electric company said the executives were docked because the spill will cost Duke Energy $192 million in cleanup, legal fees, and fines to settle a pending criminal case involving Clean Water Act violations.

 (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Saturday, March 28, 2015

US drillers are fighting back against OPEC, low oil prices

Augusta Chronicle -- OPEC and lower global oil prices have delivered a one-two punch to drillers in North Dakota and Texas who brought the U.S. one of the biggest booms in the history of the global oil industry.

Now they are fighting back.

Companies are leaning on new techniques and technology to get more oil out of every well they drill and are cutting costs in an effort to keep U.S. oil competitive with much lower-cost oil flowing out of the Middle East, Russia and elsewhere.

“Everybody gets a little more imaginative, because they need to,” says Hans-Christian Freitag, the vice president of technology for the drilling services company Baker Hughes.

Spurred by rising global oil prices, U.S. drillers learned to tap crude trapped in shale starting in the middle of the last decade and brought about a surpris  (read more)

Submitted Mar 28, 2015 By:

UPDATE 10-Oil dives 5 pct as worries about Iran talks trump Yemen

REUTERS -- * Traders weigh possibility of Iran nuclear deal by next week

* Tehran eager to recover oil market share lost due to sanctions

* Oil prices down on day but up for second straight week (New throughout, updates prices and market activity with further decline after settlement)

Oil tumbled 5 percent on Friday, erasing the previous session's gains, as Yemen's conflict looked less likely to disrupt Middle East crude shipments and investors turned their focus to talks for a potential Iran nuclear deal that could put more supply on the market.

Oil prices still notched their second straight weekly gain, boosted by the dollar's weakness in recent sessions. U.S. crude had its biggest weekly gain in more than a month.

U.S. crude and global benchmark Brent oil spent most of the session in a...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 28, 2015 By:

Alberta releases new plan for managing oilsands tailings ponds

Canadian Press - EDMONTON -- The Alberta government has released a new plan for managing oilsands tailings ponds that it says will encourage companies to generate less of the toxic waste water and clean it up sooner.

Environment Minister Kyle Fawcett says operators will have clear guidelines on how big their tailings ponds can be during mine operations and how large they will be allowed to be when it closes. Those rules will be backed up by possible financial penalties, he said.

That combination of oversight and enforcement over the life of the mine will force companies to keep pushing for the technological breakthrough on tailings cleanup that has so far remained elusive, said Fawcett.

“Technology unlocked the oilsands,” he said. “It will be key to finding the long-term, effective solutions to tailings ponds manag  (read more)

Submitted Mar 28, 2015 By:

‘Get them off rails now,’ Sen. Cantwell says of some oil tank cars

Curtis Tate | McClatchy and Tribune Newspapers -- WASHINGTON — Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., introduced legislation Wednesday that would immediately ban the least sturdy tank cars from carrying crude oil after a series of recent fiery train derailments.

The bill also would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to regulate the volatility of crude oil transported by rail, particularly oil extracted from shale formations in North Dakota’s Bakken region.

 (read more)

Submitted Mar 28, 2015 By:

Alberta’s oil drillers brace for traditional spring slowdown to stretch until next fall — or longer

Postmedia News -- With world oil prices stubbornly stuck at around $50, Western Canada’s weather-related spring drilling slowdown could easily last until next fall — or longer — experts said Thursday.

The number of rigs working in Western Canada has fallen to 109 out of a fleet of 761 for a utilization rate of 14%, compared with 292 rigs working from a fleet of 812 for a 36% activity rate in the same week last year, according to a count published Monday by the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors.

The annual second-quarter slump caused by weight restrictions on melting roads started earlier, has cut deeper and will last longer this year, said Dana Benner, head of oilfield services research at AltaCorp Capital. He predicts “downbeat” Calgary Stampede parties in July.

“I think the summer wi  (read more)

Submitted Mar 28, 2015 By:

Friday, March 27, 2015

Oil prices ease as market sees little threat of supply disruptions from Yemen

CNBC REUTERS -- Oil prices edged lower in early trading in Asia on Friday as traders estimated that the threat of a disruption to world crude supplies from Saudi Arabia-led air strikes in Yemen was low.

Goldman Sachs said in an overnight note that the strikes in Yemen would have little effect on oil supplies as the country was only a small crude exporter and tankers could avoid passing its waters to reach their ports of destination.

Internationally traded Brent crude futures were trading at $58.88 a barrel at 0121 GMT, down 31 cents from their last settlement. U.S. crude was down 40 cents at $51.03 a barrel.

Prices soared as much as 6 percent the previous day after a Saudi-led coalition of Arab nations began strikes on Shi'ite Houthis and allied army units who have taken over much of Yemen and seek...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 27, 2015 By:

Pothole repair season begins for northern half of U.S.

GasBuddy Blog --
Image From ..state.nj.usLike many states across the U.S. from Oregon to Maine, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has begun a statewide campaign to repair potholes.
To deal with potholes in the most aggressive and efficient manner, the Department will be allowing crews through the state to close travel lanes where necessary during daytime hours, including during peak travel times for priority repairs.  
In addition to the Department’s usual winter pothole repair method of using cold patch material, NJDOT is using 13 state-of-the-art pothole-filling machines, which make a more durable repair than cold-patch. The pothole-filling machine, which was demonstrated today, is a truck that can heat a mix of asphalt and gravel before injecting the mixture into the pothole. These machines require just one person to operate, with another worker operating a safety truck.  ...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 27, 2015 By:

How American frackers plan to beat OPEC

Yahoo Finance -- Gary Evans, CEO of Houston-based energy firm Magnum Hunter Resources (MHR), has a blunt message for OPEC oil ministers hoping to force down prices and drive American competitors out of business.  (read more)

Submitted Mar 27, 2015 By:

Buckle up! Oil 'could fall to $30' say trading pros

CNBC -- Oil prices continued their downward spiral Friday, falling more than $1, after a short-lived rally of around 5 percent the previous day, as concerns of a disruption to supplies in the Middle East appeared to ease. Against this backdrop, hedge fund managers said the oil price would remain volatile and could even fall as low as $30.  (read more)

Submitted Mar 27, 2015 By:

North American Railroads Caught by Speed of Crude-Oil Collapse

Bloomberg -- The slowdown that North American railroad companies had been bracing for in crude oil shipments has turned into a rout, with volumes falling faster than executives had predicted.

With energy companies scaling back drilling after prices for the commodity fell about 50 percent since July, industry executives and analysts anticipated that demand for hauling crude and extraction materials such as frac sand and pipes would slow after a four-year surge. They didn’t expect it to slow this much this fast.

“The impact is occurring more quickly than the rails originally projected to investors,” said Matt Troy, an analyst with Nomura Securities International Inc. in New York. “The consensus view was that very high double-digit growth would moderate to low double digits, and ...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 27, 2015 By:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Americans consuming least amount of gasoline since the 80's

GasBuddy Blog -- A study out by the University of Michigan boldly claims that Americans are consuming the least amount of gasoline since tracking began in 1984.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) study by Michael Sivak said average fuel consumption by U.S. motorists dropped in 2013 to its lowest level since 1984, the first year data was recorded.

The drop is astounding, as consumption now stands some 14 to 19 percent lower than when it peaked in 2004, said Sivak. The numbers shows that in 2013 the amount of fuel consumed per person was about 392 gallons, while overall households consumed an average of just over 1,000 gallons- declines of 17 percent and 19 percent, respectively, since 2004- when numbers peaked. Overall consumption by vehicle dropped to 524 gallons while gallons per driver dropped to 583 gallons....  (read more)

Submitted Mar 26, 2015 By:

Oil prices surge after Saudi air strikes in Yemen

Reuters -- Brent crude oil prices shot up nearly 6 percent on Thursday after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies began a military operation in Yemen, although Asian importers said they were not immediately worried about supply disruptions.

The strike against Houthi rebels, who have driven the president from Yemen's capital Sanaa, could stoke concerns about the security of oil shipments from the Middle East.

Oil prices jumped as traders and importers said they were worried the Saudi attack was a sign that fighting in the oil-rich Middle East was spreading and out of control.

Brent crude oil futures rose as high as $59.71 a barrel, up almost 6 percent since their last settlement, before dipping back to $57.80 a barrel at 0402 GMT, still up $1.32. U.S. crude was up $1.64 at $50.85 a barrel  (read more)

Submitted Mar 26, 2015 By:

Cars Mysteriously Break Down After Drivers Fill Up at New Jersey Gas Station

NBC New York -- Drivers filling up their tanks at a New Jersey gas station say their cars are getting damaged and they suspect it has to do with what's being pumped out of the gas lines.

Police in Hopatcong say 10 drivers have reported problems after filling up at the Enrite gas station. Drivers continued to pull up all evening Wednesday to tell NBC 4 New York how their cars have broken down after they filled up there.

Marlene Caprio said her car had to be towed from Bergen County after it was damaged extensively. Leah Keyes said her brand-new car "totally died."

Mechanic Andrew Muns recounted another customer's experience: "It wouldn't start. She said, 'I went to hit the gas and it was bucking and kept stalling and shutting off.'"

The drivers said their mechanics told them their gas tanks were loaded  (read more)

Submitted Mar 26, 2015 By:

Proposal would outlaw holding cellphone while driving in NC

WRAL -Channel 5 - Raleigh -- A state lawmaker wants to close a loophole that makes it very difficult for law enforcement officers to enforce North Carolina's ban on texting while driving.

North Carolina is one of 40 states that have laws against texting while driving. Yet, people still send and read text messages behind the wheel, and punishing them isn't so easy.

A WRAL Investigates report last July found that 1,458 people were cited with texting while driving in Wake County in 2013. Of the 1,367 cases disposed of in the county that year in Wake County, fewer than half resulted in drivers paying the $290 in fines and court costs. Many drivers fought their tickets and won.

The current law applies only to moving vehicles – drivers stopped at a red light can text and email – but drivers are still allowed to type ...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 26, 2015 By:

Why Bombing This Tiny Oil Producer Is Roiling the Energy Market

BloombergBusiness -- While Yemen contributes less than 0.2 percent of global oil output its location puts it near the center of world energy trade.

The nation shares a border with Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter and sits on one side of a shipping chokepoint used by crude tankers heading West from the Persian Gulf. Global oil prices jumped more than 5 percent on Thursday after regional powers began bombing rebel targets in the country that produced less than Denmark in 2013.

Yemen’s government has collapsed in the face of an offensive by rebels known as Houthis prompting airstrikes led by Saudi Arabia the biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The Gulf’s main Sunni Muslim power says the Houthis are tools of its Shiite rival Iran another OPEC member and halt...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 26, 2015 By: