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Western Iowa counties hire engineers to oversee proposed pipeline

Associated Press/KCRG.com -- FORT DODGE (AP) — At least three Iowa counties have hired engineers to oversee the installation of a proposed underground oil pipeline, pending its approval.

The Fort Dodge Messenger reports that Webster County on Tuesday approved the hire of an engineer to survey the pipeline’s construction if approved by the Iowa Board of Utilities. Dakota Access, LLC, a unit of Energy Transfer Partners, applied in January for the structure that would cut through 18 Iowa counties.

Calhoun and Sac counties have also secured engineering services.

Webster County officials say the engineer is responsible for drainage districts. They say future agreements will likely cover the 24 roads the pipeline would cross.

The proposed pipeline would carry crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota across S  (go to article)

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White House mulled, then balked at curbing explosive gas on oil trains, leaving ND to decide

Reuters/WDAZ.com -- WASHINGTON - The Obama administration weighed national standards to control explosive gas in oil trains last year but rejected the move, deciding instead to leave new rules to North Dakota alone.

Current and former administration officials told Reuters that they were unsure of federal jurisdiction to force the energy industry to drain volatile gas from crude oil originating in North Dakota's fields.

Instead, they opted to back North Dakota's effort to remove the cocktail of explosive gas - known in the industry as 'light ends' - and rely on the state to contain the risk.

North Dakota's regulations come into force next month.

The administration's internal debate shows that concern about the risks associated with oil trains reached the upper level of the White House. But the admin...  (go to article)

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Storage dearth may drive oil prices to $30

MarketWatch -- SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — As the U.S. runs out of space to store its glut of crude-oil supplies, prices for the commodity could sink to as low as $30 a barrel.

When storage is full, there is pressure on those holding oil in storage to “dump that inventory,” said Charles Perry, chief executive officer of energy-consulting firm Perry Management. So a space shortage could cause a drop in prices to the $30 to $40-per-barrel range, he said.
 (go to article)

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The Price of Oil Is Down, So Why Is Production Still Going Up?

Bloomberg -- Too much oil, too fast.

That turns out to be the downside of the U.S. oil boom — at least if you’re an investor. Prices crashed, and America is pumping so much crude its running out of places to store it. One promising sign you may have heard about: The plunge in U.S. oil rigs.

Every week since 1944, oilfield-services company Baker Hughes has released a survey of rigs out drilling for oil. But it wasn't until oil prices dropped by more than half that "rig counts" became part of everyday business vocabulary. Oil watchers are desperate for any sign of an end to the glut.  (go to article)

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U-Mich: New-vehicle fuel economy down in wintry February

GasBuddy Blog -- According to a monthly report by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle from the University of Michigan, the average fuel economy of newly purchased vehicles fell during the month of February, meaning motorists were buying new cars that were less fuel efficient, on average, than the previous month.

The average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the U.S. in February was 25.2 mpg—down 0.2 mpg from January.  This decrease in fuel economy likely reflects the increased market share of light trucks, SUVs, and crossovers in response to the inclement winter weather in a large part of the country.  Overall, vehicle fuel economy is up 5.1 mpg since October 2007 (the first month of monitoring)....  (go to article)

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What Happened To Big Savings at the Gas Pump?

CNBC -- Some big savings at the pump seem to have gone missing.

The plunge in gasoline prices has generated a windfall for American drivers. But so far, there's little evidence those savings are producing a widely anticipated boost in consumer spending.

So where is all that money going?

There's no question the sharp drop in pump prices since last summer means a much smaller bite out of consumers' wallets. Though fuel prices have bumped up a bit, they're still some 30 percent lower than the five-year average cost.  (go to article)

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Kentucky Drivers Stranded on Snowy Interstate Tweet About Their Plight

ABC News -- Many Kentucky drivers spent the snowy evening in their cars, counting down 12 hours or more via Twitter and foraging for food, after two serious accidents on a major interstate. The state police estimated the backup to be 20 miles long.

Because of a steep hill that police say is almost impossible to climb in the heavy snowstorm, the biggest backup is in the southbound lane of I-65, four miles north of Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Another backup on northbound I-65, south of Elizabethtown, has been as long as 10 miles long, according to police.

Kentucky State Police said Interstate 65 and Highway 71 were virtually shut down. The National Guard and Red Cross were called in to rescue motorists in Hardin County, ABC affiliate station WHAS-TV in Louisville reported.

Stranded drivers and passenger  (go to article)

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Clean fuels bill passes in the House

Statesman Journal -- A bill that would require companies to reduce by 10 percent the carbon in fuels sold in Oregon over the next decade passed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday by a 31-29 margin after five and a half hours of debate.
Its passage appears to have sealed the fate of a proposed transportation package the Oregon Legislature has been working to create, as Republicans have said they refuse to allow both to pass during the 2015 session.
House Republicans said Wednesday evening they would no longer participate in talks to create a bill that would raise the state gas tax and provide dedicated funding for roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
The bill that spurred such a heated debate was Senate Bill 324, which continues a program begun in 2009, as well as altering some aspects of how...  (go to article)

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Oil bust threatens mortgage-backed securities in Wall Street-funded shale towns

Bloomberg -- The oil glut is threatening to expose cracks in the commercial-mortgage bond market.

Nomura Holdings Inc. estimates that $16 billion in property debt that has been sold to investors as securities is vulnerable to default after crude prices plunged, posing risks for the economies of U.S. cities and towns built around the boom.

Wall Street analysts are poring over commercial-mortgage backed securities for signs of distress as the oil crash weighs on demand for real estate in energy hubs. Properties that house workers — such as apartment complexes, mobile-home parks and hotels — are likely to be the first to see vacancy rates rise as oil rigs idle and jobs vanish, according to Nomura debt analysts Lea Overby and Steven Romasko.

“If this oil story persists, oil workers are going to go somep  (go to article)

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Northwest Oil Terminal Plan Would Mean Jobs — And More Oil Trains

NPR -- America's oil boom is going through some growing pains. But despite the recent dip in oil prices, some segments of the industry are focused on long-term growth.

In southwestern Washington state, oil companies want to build the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the country at the Port of Vancouver, on the banks of the Columbia River.

Vancouver, a suburb of Portland, Ore., which lies just across the river, is the most direct rail route from the Bakken oil fields to the Pacific Ocean. But the proposal has raised tensions in this city between concerns over safety and the desire to create jobs.

Linda Garcia has called a working class part of Vancouver home for almost 20 years. "My neighborhood is my family," she says.

But Garcia is concerned about how her neighborhood could change if the term  (go to article)

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The U.S. Is Pumping Even More Oil and Storage Tanks Are Getting Filled to the Brim

Bloomberg -- The U.S. is pumping oil faster than at any time since 1972, and storage tanks are getting filled to the brim.

U.S. oil production rose for the fourth consecutive week, to a rate of 9.3 million barrels a day, even as oil-drilling rigs are being idled at an unprecedented rate. U.S. inventories also rose, for the eighth consecutive week, jumping 2.4 percent to 444 million barrels, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported today.
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Canadians favour taxes to curb emissions, but not at the gas pump

The Globe and Mail - OTTAWA -- A majority of Canadians says Canada’s efforts to reduce GHG have been dismal and they want the federal government to take the lead in creating tax policies for curbing emissions, a new poll suggests
But a much smaller number of participants in the survey released on Wed said they want to see those taxes reflected at the gas pumps or on home heating bills
Federal and provincial governments work to submit a post-2020 GHG strategy to UN ahead of the Paris summit in Dec, where global governments hope to conclude a climate treaty
When asked to assess Canada’s efforts to cut the output of GHG that contribute to global warming, just 14% of respondents rated them to be “good or “very good, compared with the 29% “poor” and another 28% “very poor
"We are laggards when it comes to reducing GHG
Enviro  (go to article)

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Welcome to the ‘new paradigm’ in crude oil

Market Watch -- SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — The oil market bid farewell to $100 prices for West Texas Intermediate crude back in July, and many years may pass before it sees it again.

Analysts at UBS on Wednesday said the market has entered a “new paradigm,” with WTI oil prices remaining “lower for longer.” They expect prices to trade in the $65 to $70 a barrel range “at least over the next several years.”

“The success of U.S. oil shale has been a game changer for the industry,” the analysts, led by Angie Sedita, said. “U.S. oil shales have lowered the cost of the marginal barrel of oil with roughly 60% of the basins economic at $65/bbl oil or lower.”

That means that quite a few shale plays in the country can break even at a price of $65 or lower, as this UBS chart shows:  (go to article)

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Brent above $61 as Iran news offsets U.S. stockpiles

Reuters -- (Reuters) - Brent crude future prices rose above $61 a barrel on Thursday, as investors brushed aside bearish U.S. inventories data to focus on the lack of a deal in talks over Iran's nuclear program.

Tehran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Wednesday no deal had been reached on the duration of any possible final agreement with world powers on Iran's program. That allayed investors' fears of an imminent rise in Iranian oil supply.

Brent LCOc1 has traded around $60 since mid-February, rebounding from a six-year low of about $45 hit in January.

Brent crude front-month futures rose 77 cents to $61.32 a barrel by 4.59 a.m. ET while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 rose 65 cents to $52.18.

A two percent gain in the previous session narrowed WTI's  (go to article)

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U.S. crude oil storage capacity utilization now up to 60%

EIA -- Crude oil inventory data for the week ending February 20 show that total utilization of crude oil storage capacity in the United States stands at approximately 60%, compared with 48% at the same time last year. Most U.S. crude oil stocks are held in the Midwest and Gulf Coast, where storage tanks were at 69% and 56% of capacity, respectively, as of February 20. This capacity use calculation reflects only crude oil stored in tanks or underground caverns at tank farms and refineries, and excludes some crude oil that is included in commercial inventory data, such as pipeline fill and lease stocks held in production areas.
Capacity is about 67% full in Cushing, Oklahoma (the delivery point for West Texas Intermediate futures contracts), compared with 50% at this point last year.  (go to article)

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NHTSA: DUI under influence of marijuana and Rx drugs is on the rise

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From AZmarijuana.comFirst, the good news...
The latest study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on driving behavior says drunk driving has declined.

Unfortunately, the bad news is that the frequency of DUI involving marijuana and/or prescription drugs is on the increase. 

In a voluntary survey on alcohol and drug use, 8 percent of drivers had alcohol in their system on weekend nights, the Post said. That's compared to 20 percent of drivers who admitted to having drugs in their system, the newspaper said. ...  (go to article)

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LyondellBasell accuses Steelworkers of threatening returning workers

FuelFix -- LyondellBasell announced Tuesday that it has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the United Steelworkers union, alleging that union representatives have made threats against employees who have returned to work and have used abusive language in social media.

The company also contends it has witnessed threatening behavior at the gates of its Houston refinery as employees arrive to work, according to a letter to employees from Kevin Brown, executive vice president of global manufacturing, refining, global engineering services and global projects. The company filed the charge with the National Labor Relations Board.

“This action by the USW is extremely disappointing and the impact it has on individuals and families is saddening,” Brown said.
 (go to article)

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Student teams rev their engines for Shell Eco-marathon in Motor City

fuel fix -- University of Houston engineering seniors Roberto Guerra and Alberth Chavez have a big job this weekend.

Flanked by their crew of local high school students and the 60-pound steel frame of a bullet-shaped car at Houston City Hall on Wednesday, they said they’re planning to test out the car’s methane-fueled engine that could, if all goes smoothly, get the equivalent of 200 to 300 miles to the gallon.

Getting it right would bring them one step closer to the Shell Eco-marathon in Detroit next month, a fuel-efficiency competition that will draw more than 1,000 college and high school students from around the United States and from Brazil Guatemala Mexico and Canada.

They’ll see who can get the most out of their souped-up vehicles using compressed natural gas, biofuels gasoline and diesel.  (go to article)

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Steelworkers strike: More labor board charges filed

FuelFix -- The National Right to Work Foundation announced Wednesday that three employees at LyondellBasell filed unfair labor practice charges against the United Steelworkers Union.

The charges allege that union officials from Steelworkers Local 13-227 are harassing workers who are going back to work. The charges were filed Monday with the National Labor Relations Board, according to the foundation that is providing free legal help.

The foundation accused an unnamed local union official of making threats toward workers who continue to work during the strike. The group also alleges that union officials have allowed a union Facebook page to threaten union-represented employees who have gone back to work along with those who may be considering it.
 (go to article)

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Refinery Strike: Tesoro Blames Steelworkers, Nurses, Occupy, Environmentalists For Calif. Baseball W

IBTimes -- Spring is coming soon, but baseball season in the San Francisco Bay Area has been disrupted.

Oil giant Tesoro is locking out 600 youth baseball players from practicing on 15 fields located next to its refinery in Martinez, California. As part of a nationwide work stoppage involving some 7,000 workers, the Martinez workers have been on strike since Feb. 2, with regular pickets from the United Steelworkers and their allies protesting health and safety conditions.

“It’s for the safety of the kids and the parents and spectators that would have to cross picket lines,” Tesoro spokeswoman Patricia Deutsche explained to the local press. “We just don’t have to expose them to any negative interactions.”

In another interview, Deutsche specifically mentioned the threat of outside agitators from...  (go to article)

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Oil prices are about to blow a hole in corporate accounting

Bloomburg -- There’s one place in the world where oil is still $95 a barrel. On paper.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission requires drillers to calculate the value of their oil reserves every year using average prices from the first trading days in each of the previous 12 months. Because oil didn’t start its free fall to about $45 till after the OPEC meeting in late November, companies in their latest regulatory filings used $95 a barrel to figure out how much oil they could profitably produce and what it’s worth. Of the 12 days that went into the fourth- quarter average, crude was above $90 a barrel on 10 of them.

So Continental Resources Inc., led by billionaire Harold Hamm, reported last month that the present value of its oil and gas operations increased 13 percent last year to $22.8 bil.  (go to article)

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Environmentalists file suit over California oil refinery project

Reuters -- Environmentalists in California filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Contra Costa County over its approval last month of a plan to increase propane recovery at Phillips 66's Rodeo refinery, saying the environmental review did not take into account the broader impact of the project.

In early February, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors approved the company's request to modify its 78,000 barrel-per-day refinery, located on the San Francisco Bay.

In the lawsuit filed by Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) against the supervisors and Phillips 66, the plaintiffs argue the Propane Recovery Project would require a switch to new oil feedstocks.

That could pave the way for Phillips to bring crude oil, possibly Canadian tar sands crude, by rail to its refinery in Santa Maria before it i  (go to article)

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U.S. petroleum product exports reach record high in 2014

EIA -- EIA’s December Petroleum Supply Monthly data show that exports of noncrude petroleum products from the United States averaged 3.8 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2014, an increase of 347,000 bbl/d from 2013, and a new record high. Increased exports of motor gasoline and hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL), including propane and butane, were the main contributors to the trend, while exports of distillate decreased.

Record-high U.S. refinery runs, which averaged 16.1 million bbl/d in 2014, and increased global demand for petroleum products allowed U.S. petroleum product exports to increase for the 13th consecutive year. U.S. exports are mostly sent to nearby markets in Central America and South America, which grew year-over-year by 172,000 bbl/d (15%), followed by exports to Canada and Mexico,  (go to article)

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MARKET WATCH: NYMEX, Brent crude prices settle higher on Saudi oil hike

Oil & Gas Journal -- Oil prices rose on the New York and London markets Mar. 3 after Saudi Arabia raised the official price for its oil by $1/bbl for US delivery and $1.40/bbl for delivery to Asia, suggesting firm demand. Crude prices also supported by news about more unrest in Libya targeting an oil field.
US light, sweet crude prices closed slightly above $50/bbl Mar. 3 after trading in a somewhat limited range while awaiting the weekly inventory report from the Energy Information Administration for the week ended Feb. 27, which showed supplies built again to remain at record levels.  (go to article)

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Exxon CEO: Get used to lower oil prices

Yahoo Finance -- NEW YORK (AP) -- Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson expects the price of oil to remain low over the next two years because of ample global supplies and relatively weak economic growth.

"People need to kinda settle in for a while," Tillerson said at the company's annual investor conference in New York.

In a presentation to investors outlining its business plans through 2017, Exxon assumes a price of $55 a barrel for global crude. That's $5 below where Brent crude, the most important global benchmark, traded on Wednesday. It's about half of what Brent averaged between 2011 and the middle of last year.

The price of oil plunged in the second half of 2014 when it became apparent that production was outpacing global demand. The rise in U.S. production last year of 1.5 million barrels per day was t  (go to article)

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Bill Could Change Passing Laws On N.C. Roads

WFMY-TV -- If you've ever been stuck behind a slow moving vehicle on a two-lane highway in North Carolina, state lawmakers want to help you.

Representatives from the N.C. General Assembly have announced H.B. 60, the Passing Slow Moving Vehicles bill.

The bill is "an act to allow the driver of a vehicle to overtake and pass slower moving vehicles on portions of the highway which are marked by signs, markers, or markings placed by the Department of Transportation stating or clearly indicating that passing should not be attempted."  (go to article)

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Saudi Arabia: Don't blame us for oil's big plunge

CNN Money -- Saudi Arabia isn't a fan of the "conspiracy theories" surrounding the kingdom's oil policies.
Oil took a massive plunge from over $100 a barrel in July to under $50 in January. Saudi Arabia's refusal to cut production, especially when oil hit around $70 at Thanksgiving, raised eyebrows about the country's motives.
In the past, Saudi Arabia would respond to a supply glut like the current one by pumping less oil.
Energy analysts began to speculate that the Saudis were trying to kill off the North American shale revolution. Some shale operations are no longer profitable when oil falls below $50.
Theories claiming OPEC has a "war on shale" and that OPEC is dying are wrong, Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi said in a speech on Wednesday in Berlin.
"OPEC and Saudi Arabia have yet again been ma  (go to article)

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Ram to expand its compressed natural gas pickup options

Detroit Free Press -- FCA US said Wednesday its Ram truck brand will expand its compressed natural gas offerings to include regular cab and two-wheel-drive versions of its Ram 2500 pickups, giving its mostly commercial customers more options for the fuel-efficient trucks.

Currently, Ram offers compressed natural gas, or CNG, trucks only in crew cab and four-wheel-drive configurations with a long bed. The new configurations will be available by the end of 2015.

FCA US, the company previously known as Chrysler, is the only manufacturer in North America to offer a factory-built CNG pickup and has been selling them for three years. Last year, the automaker sold about 1,000 CNG pickups.

The CNG-only range is 301 miles on the highway, while the backup supply of gasoline extends the range to 966 total miles.  (go to article)

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Senate fails to override Obama's veto of pipeline bill

CBS News -- WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-controlled Senate has failed to override President Barack Obama's veto of a bill approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The 62-37 vote Wednesday was the latest chapter in the fight between the GOP-led Congress and the White House over energy policy. It was the first of many possible veto showdowns to come in Obama's final term.

Proponents of the bill have said since its introduction that they didn't have the vote of two-thirds of the Senate needed to override Obama's veto.

The $8-billion pipeline would transport oil harvested from Canada's tar sands to pipelines linked to Gulf Coast refineries. Obama said that the bill circumvented the well-established process for approving cross-border pipelines, which must be determined to be in the national interest.  (go to article)

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CME Group to launch new physical crude storage contract

Reuters -- The CME Group Inc will launch a physically delivered crude oil storage futures contract in the U.S. Gulf Coast at the end of March that traders say may be timely given record levels of stockpiles nationwide.

Under the agreement, each futures contract represents the right to store 1,000 barrels of crude at LOOP LLC's Clovelly Hub in Louisiana. The new contract will begin trading on March 29, for trade day March 30, pending regulatory approval.

There are 7 million barrels of storage available for the contract, according to Terry Coleman, a spokesman for LOOP.

The move comes after the U.S. crude oil contract flipped into a contango late last year, opening up a key trading opportunity for traders to buy oil today and sell higher later. Meanwhile, the physical Gulf Coast crude oil complex is  (go to article)

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For California, low gas prices are a fleeting memory

GasBuddy Blog -- Nowhere in the U.S. is the springtime rise of gasoline prices steeper than what is found in sunny California.  In practically no time California's average price of gas will reach $3.50 per gal., and it was just a month ago that it was below $2.50.
Let's take a look at why.  Drivers in Los Angeles are paying an average of $3.54 a gallon to fuel up, more than any of the other 443 metropolitan areas tracked by GasBuddy.Most of the increase came last week, including when the local price surged 14.3 cents Friday from Thursday in the second-largest jump since GasBuddy began keeping track seven years ago. For the week that ended Monday, West Coast gas prices jumped a record 37.2 cents a gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. ...  (go to article)

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U.S. Gulf to Receive Flood of Oil From Midwest as Glut Grows

Bloomberg -- The flood of oil inundating the U.S. Midwest is about to cascade down to the Gulf Coast.
Bulging inventories at tanks in Cushing, Oklahoma, the country’s biggest storage hub and delivery point for U.S. benchmark futures, has made oil there the cheapest in more than a year compared with crude in Louisiana.

Traders have more incentive to move crude to the Gulf as the price difference widens enough to cover the cost of transport. The Gulf Coast will be a more attractive destination as storage space in Cushing fills up and becomes more expensive, according to Genscape Inc.

“We’re reaching a rebalancing point here,” said Carl Larry, head of oil and gas for Frost & Sullivan LP in Houston. “We’ve had a huge build of supplies in Cushing, and out of necessity it’s going to start coming to the Gul  (go to article)

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Studies explore concerns about natural-gas production and health

TheDallasMorningNews -- Dogs serve as living recorders of toxic exposure. Cattle have trouble breeding. People report headaches, dizziness, difficulty breathing and a raft of other ills.

Those are a few of the findings in a new suite of academic studies on natural-gas production and health being published Tuesday.

People’s and animals’ troubles subside, one study found, when they move away from places where companies are producing natural gas with unconventional methods — that is, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the process already used on tens of thousands of wells in North Texas.

The research, mostly by university scientists, centers mostly on another region where gas production has moved into established communities, the Marcellus Shale field in Pennsylvania. But it explores the same questions that arise  (go to article)

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California gas prices jump $1 in one month

LA Times -- lifornia gas prices have shot up about $1 a gallon in the last month as oil refineries have been idled by a labor strike and an explosion.

That's made gasoline much more expensive here than anywhere else in the nation — an average of $3.44 for a gallon of regular as of 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to price-tracker GasBuddy.com. Hawaii is the only other state with an average price above $3 a gallon.

Drivers in Los Angeles are paying an average of $3.54 a gallon to fuel up, more than any of the other 443 metropolitan areas tracked by GasBuddy.  (go to article)

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Crude inventories at their highest level in decades after another build

Fuel Fix -- HOUSTON — Commercial crude oil inventories grew by another large margin last week, driving down the price of oil in early trading Wednesday.

Stores of crude grew by 10.3 million barrels in the week ending Feb. 27. The gain far surpassed the forecast build of 3.9 million barrels, according to a survey of eight analysts compiled by Bloomberg.

Shortly after the report was released, traders bid down the benchmark futures contract for crude by 79 cents or 1.56 percent. The drop in early trading erased an about 2 percent gain made on Tuesday and brought the next-month contract for West Texas Intermediate to $49.73.

On Tuesday, preliminary data from the American Petroleum Institute pointed toward a 2.9 million barrel gain in stocks– less bearish than reports registered in the past weeks.  (go to article)

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Ford-Tonka dump truck a huge 'toy'

USA Today -- Ford Motor says it teamed with toy maker Tonka for a really big "toy" truck -- a full-size, fully functional, diesel-power, F-750 dump truck.

Ford will exhibit it at the National Equipment Association Work Truck show in Indianapolis Wednesday, then take it on tour of other work-truck and equipment shows.

"The people at Geneva (Motor Show this week) will wish they were here instead," quipped Ford's chief truck spokesman, Mike Levine.
The Mighty Ford Tonka dump truck is real -- hauls up to 17,000 pounds in the dump box, he says. Power is from a 6.7-liter diesel V-8 rated up to 330 horsepower, 725 pounds-feet of torque.

But it's a promotional item only, to draw attention to the new-design, 2016 F-650 and F-750 trucks.

Ford plans to build no more -- even though some business owners might p  (go to article)

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Is the sudden spike in gas prices really justified or just gouging?

Seattle - My Northwest -- The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded has climbed to $2.93 in the Seattle area. That's 35 cents more than just a week ago, 60 cents higher than just a month ago.

It's been a rude awakening for all of us enjoying record low prices in recent days.

At the Juanita Firs 76 station in Kirkland, owner Dan Amundsen is used to the price of gas of starting to rise this time of year.

"Just about every year for I don't know how long, this is the season when the price goes up," says Amundsen.

Jennifer Cook at AAA of Washington says it's fairly predictable.

"Spring time is when refineries slow down their production and switch from summer fuel blends to summer fuel blends, which are more expensive to produce. But during that time they slow their production, which puts pressure on supply,  (go to article)

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Where Gas Prices Shot Up Nearly $1 Per Gallon in One Month

Time -- Everyone is paying more at the pump lately. But California drivers have seen gas prices soar at an unbelievably fast pace.

In mid-January 2015, the national average for regular gasoline was $2.03 per gallon, and there seemed to be a strong possibility that gas stations would average under $2 nationally within weeks, or even days. Instead, that period marked what appears to be the bottoming out of the cheap gas era. After four months of consistently plummeting fuel costs, drivers began seeing gas prices inch up steadily—and then spike very recently.

Over the past week, the national average has crept up 2¢ daily, from $2.33 to $2.47 as of Monday, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. AAA data indicates that gas prices have risen 35 days in a row, for a total rise of 39¢  (go to article)

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Resale Prices Tumble on Electric Cars

Wall Street Journal -- Nissan Motor Co. ’s Leaf electric car has been a big seller for Atlanta car dealer Pat Hoban over the past three years, thanks to its low monthly lease price. But as those car leases are beginning to expire amid cheap gasoline, the vehicle is becoming a bit of a headache.

Mr. Hoban expects between 100 and 150 of the leased vehicles to be returned to his Capitol City Nissan dealership on a monthly basis over the next two years as their leases expire. The problem: used Leafs aren’t attracting much demand.  (go to article)

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More Steelworkers Cross Picket Lines as Refinery Strike Drags on

BloombergBusiness -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc said more than 20 percent of about 800 union workers at its Deer Park refinery in Texas have crossed picket lines, undermining a strike that has entered its second month.

Workers also have begun returning to their jobs at refineries owned by Motiva Enterprises LLC, a joint venture between Shell and Saudi Arabian Oil Co., said Kelly Op De Weegh, a Motiva spokeswoman. LyondellBasell Industries NV and Tesoro Corp., two other refinery owners affected by the strike, are seeing a growing number of employees coming back to work, according to spokespersons for the companies who wouldn’t provide a specific estimate.

“We have had workers return at all three of our sites,” said Destin Singleton, a spokeswoman for Tesoro Corp.

The Steelworkers said only a small fraction of...  (go to article)

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Crude inventories surge again, West Coast gasoline inventories rise

GasBuddy Blog -- The Energy Information Administration released its weekly report today on the status of petroleum inventories in the United States.

Here are some highlights:

CRUDE INVENTORIES:
Crude oil inventories increased by 10.3 million barrels to a total of 444.4 million barrels. At 444.4 million barrels, inventories are 80.6 million barrels above last year (22.1%) and are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

GASOLINE INVENTORIES:
Gasoline inventories increased by 0.1 million barrels to 240.1 million barrels. At 240.1 million barrels, inventories are up 11.1 million barrels, or 4.8% higher than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (-2.0mb); Midwest (+0.7mb); Gulf Coast (+1.2mb); Rockies (+0.1mb); and West Coast (+0.2mb). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this information likely drive  (go to article)

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Saudi Arabia pledges to pump as much oil as its customers need

Bloomberg -- Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, pledged to supply as much oil as its customers need and doesn’t anticipate any weakening in that demand.

The country won’t cut output unless customers refuse to buy its crude, Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said in Berlin on Wednesday. That’s unlikely to happen because it is the world’s most reliable supplier, he said
 (go to article)

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‘Disappointed’ in union, Shell says it is hiring relief workers

Fuel Fix / Houston Chronicle -- In the first few weeks of the United Steelworkers union strike, managers stepped in at Shell Oil Co. to keep its refinery and chemical plant running.

As the strike enters its second month, Shell has been training “relief employees” to operate its Deer Park refinery as well as its Norco chemical plant in Louisiana, according to a letter to employees from Aamir Farid, manufacturing vice president, Americas.
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Economists survey: Say goodbye to cheap gas?

Bankrate -- Loving today's cheap gasoline? Hating all the sharp turns on financial markets? Well, you may be out of luck on both counts. Fuel prices are likely to rise during the next 12 months, while financial markets will provide an even rockier ride for investors, according to the latest Bankrate Economic Indicator, a quarterly survey of top economists.

On average, the experts expect oil prices to rebound a bit from their recent low levels. "Excess inventories have depressed the current price, but once inventories have declined to more normal levels, the price should be somewhat higher than today," says William Poole, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.  (go to article)

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Shell moves to business-as-usual plan for strike-impacted refineries

Oil & Gas Journal -- As the United Steelworkers union (USW) strike enters its fifth week, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which serves as lead company for National Oil Bargaining (NOB) negotiations, is implementing a plan to return its strike-impacted sites to normal, full-rotation operations without the use of union workers.

The company will complete the process of returning operations to full rotation by midsummer at its 340,000-b/d Deer Park, Tex., refinery, using only Shell-trained operators, employees, and staff, according to Aamir Farid, Shell’s vice-president of manufacturing for the Americas.

The announcement came in a Mar. 2 letter to Shell staff informing them that the company was transitioning from contingency plans to business-as-normal operations at production sites affected by USW’s unfair labor practic  (go to article)

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Petrobras scandal takes Brazilian politicians to Supreme Court

Reuters -- BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's top prosecutor asked the Federal Supreme Court on Tuesday to open investigations into politicians who allegedly benefited from a multibillion-dollar kickback scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras, a court official said on Tuesday.

The request for authorization to probe elected officials expands the country's biggest corruption scandal to the political realm, further rattling President Dilma Rousseff's administration at a time when it is already struggling to contain the economic fallout from the case.

The official, who asked not to be named because the case is still under secrecy provisions, said Prosecutor-General Rodrigo Janot asked the court to authorise 28 separate investigations into 54 people, many of whom are expected to be politicians.

 (go to article)

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U.S. consumer spending on fuel at a six-year low in January

Fuel Fix -- Plummeting gasoline prices helped U.S. consumers spend billions of dollars more on other goods and services in January, the Department of Commerce said this week.

Consumer spending fell 0.2 percent last month, only the second drop in the past year. But much of the decline can be attributed to falling prices at the pump, which are at their lowest since April 2009, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

January’s average price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.11, about $1.60 less than the 2014 high. After adjusting for inflation, consumer spending actually rose 0.3 percent.

According to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, Americans spent 21 percent less on gasoline, electricity and  (go to article)

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Not Clearing The Snow Off Your Car Before Driving Could Cost You

NPR -- After weeks of winter storms, snow fatigue has set in across much of the country.

You may be tired of clearing ice and snow off your car, but that can be a safety hazard. And now you could face a fine in some states.

Mike Taylor of Elkins Park, Pa., says just this week he was behind a car on the Pennsylvania Turnpike when, "Snow on the roof blew off, hit my windshield, forced me to jiggle, and it was only because of the stability of the car and I slowed down that I didn't have an accident," Taylor says.

He couldn't see the license plate to report the driver. But it wouldn't have mattered anyway, because in Pennsylvania, police cite a driver only if flying snow or ice causes serious injury.

A proposed law would change that and allow officers to issue a ticket and a fine up to $75.  (go to article)

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$20 Oil Rears Its Ugly Head

Forbes -- As the petroleum industry enters the historically weak second quarter with US crude inventories at highs, the very real possibility that the price will drop sharply from current levels must be considered. Ed Morse of Citibank has suggested $20 is a possibility, and many others agree that a lower price could be in the cards, even if not that low.

It is always with repeating that oil prices, in the short run, can go almost anywhere, very low or very high, depending on market conditions and the thinking of traders. But at some point, real barrels dominate the equation, mostly when inventories are very low or very high. The latter case usually results in lower prices to the point where either OPEC acts or people start buying into the market, thinking the price has gone too low.  (go to article)

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Clock ticks toward North Dakota producers reaping up to $5.3 billion oil tax break

Reuters -- The clock is still ticking on a potential $5.3 billion, two-year tax break for North Dakota's oil industry after a state-calculated average of February's crude price fell below $52.59 per barrel last month.

The state waives its 6.5 percent oil extraction tax if the monthly price of benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude at the Cushing, Oklahoma, transport hub falls below an inflation-adjusted limit, set at $52.59 per barrel for 2015, for five consecutive months.

For February, the average calculated price was $50.86 per barrel, according to North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger. The average was an increase from the January average of $47.98 per barrel.

The tax break kicks in if the average monthly price is below that $52.59 level for each of the next three months. If i  (go to article)

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New cars and trucks with the worst gas mileage

Market Watch -- Gasoline may be relatively cheap these days, but if you care about the environment as well as your wallet, rethink getting that Nissan Armada or Toyota Sequoia. These are just two of the 2015 cars that are “meanest” on the environment, according to The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, which offers an interactive database of all model year 2015 vehicles, along with each configuration’s fuel economy, health-related pollution impacts, and greenhouse gas emissions. This year’s environmental ratings for 2015 model vehicles includes a list of the greenest cars in the database, along with the cars that scored the worst. The site, greenercars.org, analyzes auto makers’ test results for fuel economy and emissions as reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Calif  (go to article)

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