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Friday, October 24, 2014

A World Without OPEC?

The New York Times -- Forty-one years ago this month, the Arab oil embargo began. The countries that were part of it belonged, of course, to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries — OPEC — which had banded together 13 years earlier to strengthen their ability to negotiate with international oil companies. The embargo led to widespread shortages in the United States, higher prices at the gas pump and long lines at gas stations. By the time it ended, the price of oil had risen to $12 a barrel from $3.

Perhaps more important than the price increases themselves was the new world order the embargo signaled. The embargo “set in motion geopolitical circumstances that eventually allowed [OPEC] to wrest control over global oil production and pricing from the giant international oil companies — ushering in  (read more)

Submitted 4 hours ago By:

Maine’s high court upholds Passadumkeag wind project approval, confirms citizen board’s authority

Bangor Daily News -- PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court has allowed a 14-turbine wind farm on Passadumkeag Mountain to move ahead in a decision clarifying that the citizen-led Board of Environmental Protection has a broad power to review the decisions of state regulators.

The Board of Environmental Protection approval last year overturned a denial by Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patricia Aho, who decided last year that the project in Grand Falls Township would negatively affect the scenic character of the area, specifically around Saponac Pond.

The project generated local opposition from the group Passadumkeag Mountain Friends, which had appealed the Board of Environmental Protection’s approval to the state’s top court.

A key question during oral arguments heard in early  (read more)

Submitted 4 hours ago By:

South Central Ohio gas prices down four cents

Jackson County Daily -- South Central Ohio gas prices fell four cents to $3.093 a gallon, according to AAA East Central’s Fuel Gauge Report.

This week’s South Central Ohio average price: $ 3.093.

Average price during the week of Oct. 14, 2014: $ 3.136.

Average price during the week of Oct. 22, 2013: $ 3.409.

The average price for unleaded regular gasoline in Ohio is $3.044.

On the National Front

Today’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $3.09 per gallon. This is a dime less than one week ago, 25 cents less than one month ago and 26 cents less than one year ago. Drivers are saving an average of 61 cents per gallon compared to the 2014 high of $3.70 (set on April 28).  (read more)

Submitted 4 hours ago By:

Can New Titanium-Dioxide Battery Last 20 Years, Recharge In 5 Minutes? -- Lithium-ion batteries help make modern electric cars possible, but they're also responsible for those vehicles' limitations.

That's why so much attention is given to improving lithium-ion chemistry, which can help electric cars overcome current limits of range, charging times, and battery lifespan.
Researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore (via Engadget) say they've developed a lithium-ion battery that can be recharged to 70 percent capacity in two minutes, and last up to 20 years.

That would allow an electric car to fully recharge in around five minutes--about the same time it takes to refuel a gasoline car--and ease concerns over short battery lifespans and the need to replace battery packs.
 (read more)

Submitted 3 hours ago By:

Carbon-nanotube paper electrodes with very high loading for lithium-sulfur batteries

Nanowerk -- Today's electric vehicles, renewable energy storage, and many electronic gadgets are typically powered by lithium-ion batteries. The chemistry of lithium-ion batteries, however, limits how much energy they can store and this mature technology has reached its theoretical limit.
One promising alternative is the lithium-sulfur battery, which theoretically can hold as much as four times (2600 Wh kg-1) more energy per mass than lithium-ion batteries. The downside of lithium-sulfur batteries is that they have a much shorter lifespan because they can't currently be charged as many times as lithium-ion batteries.
The abundance and environmentally friendly nature of the element sulfur as cathode material contributes to the huge potential of lithium-sulfur batteries.
 (read more)

Submitted 4 hours ago By:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Saudi Arabia raises stakes in oil war with steady production, price cut

The Washington Times -- Consumers are enjoying a break from high gas prices, which have fallen below $3 a gallon in many areas, but the drop has precipitated a cold war among oil producers that has all the intrigue, suspense and looming destruction of a Tom Clancy novel.

Premium crude prices since June have plunged by 25 percent, landing Wednesday at levels near $80 a barrel in New York. That makes it painful or uneconomic for producers in Russia, Venezuela and Iran, for the pioneering shale oil drillers in America’s heartland and for Canada’s oil sands extractors.

The key player in the unfolding drama is Saudi Arabia. Despite uncomfortably low prices even for the wealthy kingdom, Saudis last week made it clear that they will not curb oil production in an effort to stabilize the market.

 (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Safety Records Show Pipelines Best Method for Transporting Oil

The New American Magazine -- America’s energy needs are so enormous that more than 18 million barrels of crude per day course through more than 500,000 miles of pipelines, either from sites such as Bakken, or ports on the East and Gulf Coast importing oil from foreign sources. Enbridge Energy Partners, the largest importer of crude into the United States, runs more than 50,000 miles of pipeline and has moved 13 billion barrels through its system over the last 10 years. Its “incident” rate (to count as an “incident” it must involve an explosion or fire, a release of five or more gallons of crude oil, an injury requiring hospitalization, a fatality, or property damage in excess of $50,000) is a minuscule .0007 percent. Put another way, 99.9993 percent of its oil arrives at its destination without incident.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Mini Cooper gas mileage overstated, U.S. regulator says

CBC -- The U.S. government has told BMW to reduce the gas mileage estimates on the window stickers on four of its Mini Cooper models after an audit found the figures were overstated.

The discrepancy, which varies from one to four miles per gallon depending on model, was discovered in testing at the Environmental Protection Agency's lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the agency said in a statement Wednesday.

The reductions affect the 2014 Mini Cooper three-door and Mini Cooper three-door S models with manual and automatic transmissions. The biggest discrepancy was in highway mileage, but city and combined mileages also must be reduced.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

As Oil Prices Fall, Global Tensions Rise

FOX BUSINESS -- Bullish and bearish forces are slugging it out in the oil complex and something has to give. On one hand, Russia seemed to move the goalpost on an expected gas deal with Ukraine while the European Central bank is leaking stories that they may be in the market to buy cooperate bonds in an effort to thwart deflationary forces that have plagued the Eurozone.

The sharp drop in oil prices as well as an economic slowdown in Europe, in particular Germany, is creating tension between Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, and Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi that seemed to reach a fever pitch on the Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo. For oil today it is about supply and demand but it is also about the rising specter of deflation. The Consumer Price Index and the Energy Information Administration will be...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Oil will tumble to $70 says new 'bond king'

CNN -- The meltdown in the oil market is not over yet.

Jeffrey Gundlach believes Saudi Arabia loves 'turning the screws' on rival Iran.

That's the message from Jeffrey Gundlach, the star bond investor who predicts oil will plunge another $10 (it's $80 a barrel now).

While another decline in oil prices would bring smiles to American consumers -- think around $2.70 a gallon at the pump as a national average -- it could spell trouble for the boom in shale projects boosting the U.S. economy.

"I think it's going to $70 and if it does, it's bye, bye fracking. Goodbye all of the great job creation from fracking because fracking becomes too expensive if you can buy oil at $70 a barrel," Gundlach said on Wednesday at's Inside Fixed Income Conference.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Here's why credit and debit cards with chips are safer.... -- CLEVELAND, Ohio -- These three letters might be unknown to you now, but that is likely to change soon: EMV.

EMV is shorthand for the technology that will make credit and debit cards safer in the future. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, which collaborated to adopt cards with more secure technology two decades ago.

EMV cards are also known as chip cards, because they contain computer chips that are used to authenticate each transaction.

The technology has been thrust into the news in the last 10 months, ever since Target's disastrous retail breach that exposed 40 million credit and debit card numbers to hackers.  (read more)

Submitted Oct 22, 2014 By:

Warming Earth heading for hottest year on record

Yahoo - AP -- Earth is on pace to tie or even break the mark for the hottest year on record, federal meteorologists say.
That's because global heat records have kept falling in 2014, with September the latest example.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday that last month the globe averaged 60.3 degrees Fahrenheit (15.72 degrees Celsius). That was the hottest September in 135 years of record keeping.
It was the fourth monthly record set this year, along with May, June and August.
NASA, which measures temperatures slightly differently, had already determined that September was record-warm.
The first nine months of 2014 have a global average temperature of 58.72 degrees (14.78 degrees Celsius), tying with 1998 for the warmest first nine months on record,
 (read more)

Submitted Oct 22, 2014 By:

Exploding airbags: NHTSA urges car owners in warm climates to take 'immediate action'

GasBuddy Blog -- The government is urging nearly five million drivers to take “immediate action” to protect themselves against “defective” airbags – airbags that a safety expert says can explode in the vehicle and harm passengers. “This message comes with urgency,” says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as it urges owners of “certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan and General Motors vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags.” The message is especially urgent for drivers in warm climates like Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands, NHTSA said....  (read more)

Submitted Oct 22, 2014 By:

Ford cuts price of Focus Electric again

Detroit News -- For the second time in two years, Ford Motor Co. has cut the price of its Focus Electric car in the hopes of boosting sales.

The starting price for the vehicle has dropped $6,000 to $29,995, including shipping and delivery. The new price went into effect Oct. 13 for all remaining 2014 model-year Focus Electrics, as well as upcoming 2015 model-year cars, the Dearborn automaker said. Ford reduced its price by $4,000 last year.

“We hope by reducing the price we’re giving customers another reason to consider the Focus,” said spokesman Aaron Miller, adding it puts the electric car at a “very competitive price point.”

Focus Electric represents a small fraction of total Focus sales.

Through September, Ford sold a little more than 1,500 Focus Electrics and is on pace to have its best-selling  (read more)

Submitted Oct 22, 2014 By:

EIA: crude oil inventories surge again, gasoline supply drops

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 oil inventories increased by 7.1 million barrels to a total of 377.7 million barrels. At 377.7 million barrels, inventories are 2.1 million barrels below last year (0.6%) and are near the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Gasoline inventories decreased by 1.3 million barrels to 204.4 million barrels. At 204.4 million barrels, inventories are down 11.1 million barrels, or 5.2% lower than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (-0.1mb); Midwest (-1.3mb); Gulf Coast (+0.9mb); Rockies (-0.3mb); and West Coast (-0.5mb). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this information likely drives prices up (in the case of falling invento  (read more)

Submitted Oct 22, 2014 By:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Consumer Reports sheds light on 'secret warranties' that may cover costly repairs

GasBuddy Blog -- Consumer Reports found car owners can save a significant amount of money if their vehicle qualifies for what carmakers typically call service actions or customer service campaigns—effectively secret or hidden warranties that are rarely announced to the public.Two examples: Owners of 2006 to 2009 Honda Civics may qualify for a free engine block, or even a whole new engine, if their car has been leaking coolant from a crack in the block. Chrysler minivan owners may notice that the front wheel bearings on models from 2008 to 2010 are subject to premature wear, so dealers will replace them for free during a vehicle’s first five years or 90,000 miles.Consumer Reports found these “secret warranties” usually originate when automakers discover that some component or system in a given model is failing at a greater rate than expected. They learn about the problems from numerous sources, including complaints to their customer-service departments and reports from dealers. Other tip-offs are an unu  (read more)

Submitted Oct 21, 2014 By:

It Looked Like a Stabbing, but Takata Air Bag Was the Killer

The New York Times -- ORLANDO, Fla. — Hien Tran lay dying in intensive care this month after a car accident, as detectives searched for clues about the apparent stab wounds in her neck.

An unlikely breakthrough arrived in the mail a week after she died from her injuries. It was a letter from Honda urging her to get her red Accord fixed, because of faulty air bags that could explode.

“The air bag,” said Tina Tran, the victim’s twin sister. “They said it was the air bag.”

Ms. Tran became at least the third death associated with the mushrooming recalls of vehicles containing defective air bags made by Takata, a Japanese auto supplier. More than 14 million vehicles from 11 automakers that contain the air bags have been recalled worldwide.  (read more)

Submitted Oct 21, 2014 By:

A year later, cleanup still going for ND oil spill

AP via Yahoo Finance -- One year after a pipeline rupture flooded a wheat field in northwestern North Dakota with more than 20,000 barrels of crude, Tesoro Corp. is still working around the clock cleaning up the oil spill — one of the largest to happen onshore in U.S. history.

Cleanup costs have soared from the company's original estimate of $4 million to a forecast of more than $20 million, and it may be at least another year before work is completed, the company and state officials said. The oil-sopped parcel of land, about the size of seven football fields, is no longer usable for planting at present.

"It's a big cleanup and it's become part of our life," farmer Steve Jensen said Monday. "The ground is still saturated with oil. And they're out there seven days a week, 24 hours a day."

Jensen discovered the  (read more)

Submitted Oct 21, 2014 By:

Michigan politicians attempt to keep Tesla out of state

GasBuddy Blog -- Michigan is the latest state to join several others that are interested in derailing consumers from buying electric cars directly from Tesla, the California-based automaker that has won praise for its vehicles.

HB 5606, a bill on Governor Rick Snyder's desk awaiting a possible signature or veto contains language that would bar Tesla's direct sales method and instead require franchised dealers, possibly adding thousands to the cost of each vehicle sold.

General Motors issued a statement supporting HB 5606, a bill that saw its language adjusted sneakily to target Tesla, and was passed 38-0 in Michigan's Senate on October 2, then passed by Michigan's House 106-1 with the new language.

It has several Michigan based businesses very concerned as suppliers to Tesla, such as Inteva Products, who sent a letter to the governor opposing any legislation that prevents Tesla from direct sales, said Karen Manardo, global m  (read more)

Submitted Oct 21, 2014 By:

Studies: Parents set bad examples for driving teens via USA Today -- Parents often subscribe to a "do as I say, not as I do" mentality. But studies show parents are unknowingly sabotaging their teen drivers by not practicing what they preach.

Since it's National Teen Driver Safety Week, here are four examples:

Texting and Driving. Parents figuratively beat teens over the head with the "never text and drive" message, yet many do it on a regular basis. A 2012 study by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions found 91% of teens reported seeing their parents talk on cellphones while driving. Some 59% witnessed their parents sending a text while driving.

Talking on cellphones. Ninety percent of teens say they've talked on cellphones while driving, and 78% admitted to sending text messages while driving. Parents tell teens to ...  (read more)

Submitted Oct 21, 2014 By:

Monday, October 20, 2014

U.S. Oil Imports Reach Lowest September Level in 18 Years

Bloomberg -- U.S. imports of crude oil fell last month to the lowest level for September in 18 years as domestic production increased, the American Petroleum Institute said.

Shipments of crude averaged 7.39 million barrels a day, down 6.7 percent from a year earlier, the industry-funded group said today in a monthly report. Production rose to 8.8 million barrels a day, the highest level for the month in 29 years.

“The gap between U.S. petroleum production and demand continued to trend higher last month,” John Felmy, chief economist at the API in Washington, said in the report.

Total petroleum imports, including crude oil and fuels, slumped 16 percent from a year earlier to 8.4 million barrels a day, the lowest level since February 1995.  (read more)

Submitted Oct 20, 2014 By:

A brave view in an uncertain world: Why Canada’s energy boom remains on course despite sliding price

Financial Post -- With oil prices skidding near 4-yr lows and Canadian energy shares feeling the pain, it’s hard to stay optimistic. But a new report by HSBC Global Research argues Canada’s oil and gas boom remains on course

The unprecedented boom in capital spending in Canada’s natural resources sector is here to stay, with major projects currently under way or planned in the next decade worth $675B

Global oil price and market gyrations lately added to many Canadian worries — whether proposed pipelines are moving ahead; whether First Nations could stand in the way; whether fiscal terms, environmental legislation, political agendas could weaken the economic case

"We expect U.S. imports of oil from Canada to continue to rise

The oil price downturn could curtail spending in the short term as producers ada  (read more)

Submitted Oct 20, 2014 By:

You won’t get a bang out of Chevron’s use of Apple Pay

SFGATE -- To the list of big retailers accepting Apple’s new mobile payment system, add America’s second-largest oil company — Chevron Corp.

Chevron and Texaco stations will soon accept Apple Pay, the new service that lets consumers pay with their mobile phones rather than credit or debit cards. Chevron, which bought Texaco in 2001, plans to roll out the service to 3,000 stations before the holiday season with another 5,000 to follow.

“Initially Apple Pay payments will be made in the store, but we are working along with Apple Pay on developing the technology out at the fuel dispensers as well” said Chevron spokesman Braden Reddall.

But wait. Haven’t we often heard that we shouldn’t use cell phones while pumping gas? Something about a fire hazard?

The idea that mobile phones sometimes ignite...  (read more)

Submitted Oct 20, 2014 By:

National average falls closer to $3/gal mark

GasBuddy Blog -- Another week, another drop at pumps across the country. The national average fell another 9.3 cents a gallon in the last week, and stands at its lowest since February of 2011.The national average again saw a hefty decline over the last week, and we now stand a mere dime away from seeing prices nationally average under $3/gallon.Looking back, the national average stands now at its lowest point since January 18, 2011, and by the end of this week, it could stand at its lowest since late 2010. Every day, Americans are spending over $100 million less on their gasoline purchases than they did a year ago, some of which will be injected back into the economy in other forms, and with the economic concerns taking shape lately, it could help jolt things back in the right direction. I still do believe that the national average will break the $3/gallon mark by around Election Day- the timing is ironic, considering the drop has nothing to do with Election Day and everything to do with current o  (read more)

Submitted Oct 20, 2014 By:

Tesla Model S -- is it a car or an iPad?

Pioneer press -- Is the Tesla a car or an iPad?

That's the question engineers at the IHS automotive research firm posed as they dissected one of the electric car company's pricey Model S sedans.

They found that the design, components and manufacturing process that went into the car's infotainment and instrumentation systems have more in common with a tablet or smartphone than they do with a conventional automobile.

"It's like looking at the components from the latest mobile device from an Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy product," said Andrew Rassweiler, senior director for materials and cost benchmarking at IHS.

He said the electronic architecture of the sporty electric car is dramatically different from the approach of other automakers and their parts suppliers.  (read more)

Submitted Oct 20, 2014 By: