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Monday, March 02, 2015

Experts: Prepare for a Gas Price Increase

ABC -- Minnesota’s average gallon of gas is $2.38, which is up about forty cents from a month ago. Nationwide in one month, the average gallon of gas has increase 54 cents. Oil refineries are starting to prepare for the warmer weather which is one of the causes for this increase.

“This is the time of year when we just started to transition to more expensive blends of gasoline’s. With that ultimate destination being that very stringent and expensive summer gasoline that will eventually show up when temperatures warm. I know it’s crazy with the snow and cold outside to be talking anything summer related but the transition has begun,” said Senior Petroleum Analyst for Gas Buddy Patrick DeHaan.

The summer blend of gasoline is a cleaner burning fuel. Because of this oil refineries have to do mainte  (read more)

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Oil, gas wastewater may be sent to Neb.

The Durango Hearld -- A Colorado oil company’s plan to dispose of gas and oil wastewater by injecting it into a deep well in western Nebraska is drawing strong objections from residents who live near the proposed site. Wastewater disposal certainly is not the most glamorous oilfield job, but it’s essential to keeping things running smoothly, especially in Colorado and Wyoming, where oil wells pump up significantly more water than oil.The energy company, T-Rex Oil of Broomfield, is proposing what would be the largest operation of its type in Nebraska, accepting upward of 80 truckloads and 10,000 barrels of wastewater a day at the Sioux County site, Inside Energy and NET News in Nebraska have learned. The wastewater would come from Colorado, Wyoming and possibly some from Nebraska.The brine then would be  (read more)

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Oil Drops as Gain in Saudi Arabian Output Boosts OPEC Production

Bloomberg -- (Bloomberg) -- Oil fell after the first monthly gain since June as Saudi Arabia stepped up production, lifting OPEC’s output beyond its collective quota for a ninth month.
Futures decreased as much as 1.1 percent in New York. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped 30.6 million barrels a day in February, according to a Bloomberg survey. Oil sank almost 50 percent in 2014 as Saudi Arabia led the group’s decision in November to maintain its output target at 30 million a day, exacerbating a global glut.
West Texas Intermediate’s discount to European prices settled at the widest in more than a year on Feb. 27 as U.S. crude stockpiles expanded to the highest level in weekly data that started August 1982. The oversupply has driven U.S. drillers to cut the number of rigs in servi  (read more)

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Iraq minister sees oil at $64 to $65 per barrel

REUTERS -- Iraq's Oil Minister Adel Abdel Mehdi said on Sunday world oil prices were gradually rebounding and he expected to see a barrel of crude selling at around $65.

"I don't think they will return to their previous levels. I can see that oil will be sold at $64 to $65 a barrel," he told a news conference in Baghdad.

Global benchmark Brent crude closed on Friday at $62.58 a barrel after falling as low as $45.19 in January, less than half its price in the middle of last year.

OPEC producer Iraq has been hit by the slump, with revenues falling sharply just as it faces a costly military campaign against Islamic State militants who have seized large parts of the north and west of the country.

Iraq's oil revenues for February were just a fraction under $3.5 billion, on exports of 2.535 million...  (read more)

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US oil falls toward $49 after 1st monthly gain since June

CNBC -- U.S. crude futures fell towards $49 a barrel on Monday after rising more than $1 in the previous session to close February with the first monthly gain since June last year.

Economic data from manufacturing activity in China to jobs in the United States will dominate investors' radar this week.

U.S. crude futures dropped 41 cents to $49.35 a barrel by 2351 GMT after a 3 percent gain in February.

Brent crude was down 34 cents at $62.24 a barrel after posting an 18 percent gain in February, the largest monthly rise since May 2009.
Brent's premium over U.S. crude stretched to its widest since January 2014 on Friday at $13 a barrel.

Oil prices have probably touched bottom and should recover in the second half of 2015 as the collapse in the market over the last year begins to curb production  (read more)

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Sunday, March 01, 2015

OPEC is its own worst enemy

Business Insider-The Motley Fool -- There's a growing rift among the nations within OPEC.

Just this past week the Nigerian oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, said that OPEC could need to call an emergency meeting to discuss the persistently low price of oil. However, another member quickly piped up and said there was no need for an emergency meeting.

Nigeria's desire for a meeting comes just a month after Venezuela's president went on an around the world trip to meet with fellow OPEC members as its financial situation grows dire. What's becoming increasingly clear is that OPEC is at war not just with U.S. and Russian oil companies, but it is also battling a war within.

OPEC to the rescue?

As it stands right now OPEC is next due to meet this June as part of its bi-annual schedule. However, several of its members...  (read more)

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OPEC's Oil Price War Is Paying Off, But It's Far From Over

The Motley Fool -- The impact of OPEC's decision to keep oil production at 30 million barrels per day in order to push down oil prices and squeeze marginal oil producers out of the market is starting to pay off. Drilling activity in the U.S., offshore, and internationally has slowed dramatically in the last two months as companies began to realize that OPEC wasn't playing around this time.

Flooding the market with oil is working to put pressure on marginal players, but it's a strategy that's far from over. New wells aren't being drilled, but existing wells are still producing oil and for OPEC to win this price war it will have to stick together for another 6-24 months. Understanding how OPEC's strategy is working and why it will continue can give some perspective on what will happen with energy stocks in...  (read more)

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Oil storage in US close to running out: Pro

CNBC -- U.S. crude posted its first monthly gain since June on Friday, but one expert warned that storage in the United States is filling up quickly, and that could send oil lower.

"We are really close," said Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Francisco Blanch, noting that storage could run out by the end of March or early April.

Blanch, the firm's head of global commodities and derivatives, told CNBC's "Power Lunch" that means the only option for oil producers will be to sell and therefore prices can't hold up.

"For WTI, we see those pressures being very pronounced over the next few weeks," he said.

Oil inventories in the U.S. were up 8.4 million barrels last week, according to government data.

On the other hand, the international market has held up a little better, Blanch said.

"We've seen  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Putting a brake to oil train derailments

USA TODAY -- The latest derailments of trains carrying crude oil in the U.S. and Canada are putting more pressure on government officials to end the fiery crashes.

In fact, Washington is moving closer to adopting proposals that would force improvements in the tank cars and other equipment used to haul oil as well as require new restrictions on operating speeds for those trains and new assessments of rail conditions. Ottawa has taken similar steps.

But a former Obama administration official who played a key role in writing the U.S. proposals says that for all the talk about increasing the thickness and durability of tank cars, the more vital consideration may be putting better brakes on those trains.

"The more I think about it, the more I think that the ECP brakes may be more important than the tank  (read more)

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Collector car owners experience daylight nightmare

KLAS-TV8 -- LAS VEGAS -- A Washington couple says they were falsely arrested by the Nevada Highway Patrol for stealing a collector car they actually owned.
The highway patrol admitted two errors that led to Robin and Beverly Bruins being removed from their car at gunpoint. And, now, the highway patrol is facing a lawsuit.

It all began with confusion over a license plate on a classic car. A highway patrol dash camera recorded a trooper stating over a loudspeaker: “Driver! Remove your keys from the ignition and put them on the roof now!”

From that point Robin Bruins and his wife experienced a daylight nightmare when the senior citizens found themselves looking down the barrels of police pistols.

“Actually, I think I might have giggled to Bev. I turned and looked back and saw three gun barrels point  (read more)

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Gas prices soar in California as supply shrinks

St. Paul Pioneer Press-AP -- Gas prices are soaring in California in a classic example of supply and demand after an explosion stopped gasoline production at an Exxon Mobil refinery while another remains offline due to labor unrest.

Average retail gas prices in the state have surged 25 cents a gallon in less than a week, from $2.98 per gallon for regular on Monday to $3.23 per gallon on Friday. That caps a run that saw the price of regular unleaded go up 60 cents per gallon since Jan. 30 as refineries prepare to shift to a summer blend of fuels.

In some areas of Southern California, gas station owners were forced to pass price hikes of 24 cents per gallon along to consumers on Thursday after seeing wholesale prices shoot up. Prices in Northern California lagged a day but by Friday were also rising; an independent...  (read more)

Submitted Feb 28, 2015 By:

Union, Shell to resume talks in U.S. refinery strike on March 4

REUTERS -- Negotiations to settle the largest U.S. refinery strike are set to resume on March 4, the union and lead oil company negotiator said on Friday, the 27th day of the work stoppage.

Talks between Shell Oil Co, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and the United Steelworkers union (USW) broke off on Feb. 20 after refinery owners balked at a settlement. The union then ordered a strike by workers at three Motiva Enterprises [MOTIV.UL] refineries, including the nation's largest, all co-owned by Shell.

A total of 6,550 workers are walking picket lines at 15 plants, including 12 refineries that account for one-fifth of U.S. domestic production capacity.

"Industry needs to bargain a fair and safe contract or see the strike expand," the USW said on Friday.

 (read more)

Submitted Feb 28, 2015 By:

Maine Weighs Revoking Seat Belt Law Days After 75-Car Pileup

ABC News -- It's an effort that even the bill's sponsor acknowledges is poor timing.

Just two days after a 75-vehicle pileup injured at least 17 people in the state, lawmakers in Maine are considering legislation that would allow adults to opt out of wearing seat belts.

Sen. Eric Brakey told lawmakers on Friday that it's too bad they're considering his bill so close to Wednesday's crash on Interstate 95, which is thought to be largest in Maine history but had no fatalities.

"It's very unfortunate timing that we're discussing this particular legislation two days after the 75-car pileup that took place on I-95," Brakey said.

The Republican from Auburn acknowledged that people should wear seat belts and said he hopes the accident serves as a reminder of the importance to do so. But said he believes  (read more)

Submitted Feb 28, 2015 By:

Mazda bets on diesel-only car for Japan launch of key 2015 model

Reuters -- (Reuters) - Japan's Mazda Motor Corp (7261.T) will sell only diesel-powered cars in the domestic launch of its key model for 2015, gambling it can convince the country's army of hybrid petrol-electric drivers that the days of sooty, noisy diesels are long gone.

Masamichi Kogai, Chief Executive of Japan's fifth-biggest auto maker, placed his diesel bet in Tokyo on Friday as he unveiled the CX-3, a compact sport-utility vehicle (SUV).

"In Japan, more and more people are choosing to drive diesels," Kogai said. The CEO also said the greater power offered by diesel engines is a selling point for bigger cars, including compact SUVs.

Mazda has high hopes for its new entry in a small but growing segment of the global auto market. Kogai said the compact SUV segment is expected to double in size  (read more)

Submitted Feb 28, 2015 By:

Exxon Mobil settles New Jersey environmental case for a fraction of expected damages

Fuel Fix -- Exxon Mobil has settled a decade-long legal battle with New Jersey over billions of dollars in damages the state sought for the destruction of 1,500 acres of public wetlands, according to a New York Times report on Friday.

The Times wrote that the settlement amount, $250 million, reported by two sources close to the case was a fraction of the $8.9 billion in cleanup costs the state claimed had resulted from more than a century of pollution from a pair of refineries near Staten Island.

Neither Exxon Mobil nor Gov. Chris Christie’s office have made a public announcement over the settlement, and an Exxon spokesman decline to comment.

The New Jersey State Department of Environemntal Protection filed the lawsuit in 2004, and a state superior judge had been close to a decision this year befor  (read more)

Submitted Feb 28, 2015 By:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Congress investigates gas pricing

Associated Press -- WASHINGTON -- Oil industry executives rejected charges Tuesday that they manipulated gasoline supplies to increase prices. A senator said there is strong evidence that oil companies work to maintain tight markets that produce price spikes.

Opening a hearing on the volatility of gasoline prices, senators said oil industry practices of maintaining low inventories, along with growing market concentration, invited the sudden gasoline price surges that have occurred in recent years.

"Price spikes are becoming a way of life . . . and not without serious consequences," Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee, told the oil executives.  (read more)

Submitted Feb 27, 2015 By:

Saudis’ Oil Price War Is Paying Off

Bloomberg News -- Three months after Saudi Arabia made clear it was going to let oil prices keep tumbling, the strategy is showing signs of working.

U.S. drillers are idling rigs at a record pace, gutting investment plans and laying off thousands of workers.

Those steps highlight how the Saudi-led OPEC decision on Nov. 27 to maintain output levels and protect its market share is having the desired effect -- pushing prices down so far that they threaten to curb output in the U.S. and other non-OPEC countries. Saudi Arabia, the most powerful member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, will maintain that tack when the group next meets in June, according to some of the world’s biggest banks.  (read more)

Submitted Feb 27, 2015 By:

Leak at BP refinery in Whiting 2nd malfunction this week

WISH-TV8-AP -- A BP refinery in northwest Indiana has seen its second major malfunction in three days.

The Times of Munster reports a leak happened at a pipe still Wednesday morning at the Whiting refinery. The unit accounts for roughly one-quarter of the refinery’s production capacity.

A BP spokesman says it’s unclear how long repairs will take, but that the refinery is still making gasoline and other fuels. The facility is the largest in the Midwest.

Massive flames also shot up through flare stacks Monday. The BP spokesman says nobody was hurt and that production had been restored.

About 1,100 union workers have been on strike at the plant since early February. Those workers make up more than half of the refinery’s workforce.  (read more)

Submitted Feb 27, 2015 By:

Gas prices volatile, but not due to strike

Springfield News-Sun -- A month-long U.S. refinery strike has spread to Ohio, but analysts said it should have little short-term affect on local gas prices or convenience store chains like Speedway.

The issue is something analysts says they will keep an eye on if the dispute between the United Steelworkers Union International and the refineries continues long-term, said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for

“It could become a point of nervousness for the market the longer this goes on, obviously the bigger situation it becomes,” DeHaan said. “But so far there’s not really an impact at the pump yet.”

Earlier this week, members of the United Steelworkers Local 1-346 demonstrated outside the Marathon Petroleum Corp. offices in Findlay, Ohio, according to information on the group’s...  (read more)

Submitted Feb 27, 2015 By:

Feds push car firms to fix safety defects before renting or selling

GasBuddy Blog --
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony FoxxU.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Mark Rosekind joined elected officials, representatives from the rental car industry, and consumer safety advocates in calling on Congress to pass legislation that would require rental car agencies and used car dealers to fix safety defects before renting or selling vehicles subject to a recall.
JThe GROW AMERICA Act includes provisions that would require rental car agencies to remedy any safety defects under recall before renting a vehicle, and require used car dealers to do the same before selling a vehicle. Under current law, new cars must be fixed before sale. However, no similar federal provision exists for rental car agencies or used car dealers. In Richmond, major rental car agencies as well as a leading consumer group joined the department’s call for legislation to ensure rental cars with safety recalls are repaired before a consumer  (read more)

Submitted Feb 27, 2015 By:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Worse than salt, brine sprayed on roads will munch your car to pieces

Washington Post -- Your car — an investment second only to your home (unless you’ve paid college tuition) — is rotting out from under you.

You know why, and if you’re prudent you will line up at the carwash with everyone else after this weekend’s meteorological mayhem. But there’s something more insidious than the white salt caking your car from the window level on down.

Brine wants to eat through your car like a school of hungry piranhas, and more than 2 million gallons of the stuff has been sprayed on roads this winter in Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District.

Are you just too sick of winter to read another story about it? Before you go, there are some things you’ve got to know about brine:

?The reasons you should love brine are the reasons your car hates it.
 (read more)

Submitted Feb 26, 2015 By:

Police: 75-vehicle pileup on I-95 largest chain-reaction crash in Maine

Bangor Daily News -- CARMEL, Maine — A combination of snow, speed and a busy morning commute Wednesday led to what may be the largest chain-reaction crash in state history.

Interstate 95 was shut down to northbound travel between Newport and Bangor for more than four hours after 75 vehicles slid, spun, slammed into each other and skidded off the snow-slickened highway.

“I’m absolutely shocked we don’t have any fatalities,” Maine State Police Lt. Sean Hashey, Troop E commander, said during a 2:30 p.m. press conference in Bangor shortly after the highway was reopened to traffic.

He said Hollywood movie makers could not have created a more disturbing scene.

“We had a lot of broken bones,” Hashey said later. “We had vehicles, literally, wedged together.”

Vehicles were heavily damaged in the collisions that st  (read more)

Submitted Feb 26, 2015 By:

Refinery strike and gas prices don’t mix… yet

WGNOabc -- A nationwide strike at U.S. oil refineries has reached Louisiana — impacting at least three plants and more than 850 workers. At the Shell Norco plant, the picket lines are up and there’s no sign of resolution.

United Steelworkers staff representative Brent Petit says he’s not sure how the plant is operating — or when there might be results from the negotiation table.

Tuesday afternoon, on Day 3 of the dispute, he said, “This is not about money. These are good-paying, well-paying jobs. But it doesn’t do any good to make a good salary if you’re not safe … You can’t work 500 or 600 thousand hours and not be tired.”

In an emailed statement to WGNO, Shell spokesman Ray Fisher said the USW is being “unreasonable” in demanding that Shell replace routine contractors with USW-...(VIDEO)  (read more)

Submitted Feb 26, 2015 By:

Trucker Ran for Life After Stranding Truck on Tracks

ABC News -- Oxnard, CA--A driver who abandoned his pickup truck on railroad tracks before a fiery crash with a commuter train made repeated attempts to get the vehicle off the rails and then ran for his life as the train approached. The crossing has been the site of many crashes.

Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez accidentally drove onto the tracks and made the situation worse by continuing forward in an attempt to get enough speed to get his wide pickup over the rails, attorney Ron Bamieh said. When that effort failed, he tried to push the truck and then fled before the impact.

Police said Ramirez was trying to turn right at an intersection just beyond the crossing, but he made the turn too soon, drove onto the tracks before the crossing arms came down and got stuck.

Other drivers have done the same  (read more)

Submitted Feb 26, 2015 By:

Striking refinery workers march along Main Street

THE COURIER -- The nationwide refinery workers’ strike came to downtown Findlay and Marathon Petroleum Corp. on Tuesday as 150 protesters marched and shouted for safer working conditions.

Over 70 striking workers from Marathon’s refinery in Catlettsburg, Kentucky, and over 50 strikers from the BP Toledo refinery were joined by other unionized workers in a rally and march along South Main Street. They braved subzero wind chills during the hour-long spectacle.

“Our numbers have been dwindling across the nation, and we just know this is a fight for safety,” said Dave Martin, a worker at Marathon’s Catlettsburg refinery and vice president of the United Steelworkers union local there. “It’s a fight for getting our refineries staffed like they should be, doing the things that should be done at our...(VIDEO)  (read more)

Submitted Feb 26, 2015 By: