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Saturday, April 25, 2015

43
votes
Mary Barra's compensation triples to $15.8M in 1st year as GM CEO

MLIVE-AP -- General Motors CEO Mary Barra's compensation more than tripled in 2014 to $15.8 million in her tumultuous first year in the automaker's top job.

Barra and other top executives got only 74 percent of the cash incentives they could have received, because GM fell short of goals set by the board. But her stock awards more than doubled from 2013 when she was senior vice president of for product development and purchasing.

GM reported its 2014 compensation Friday in its proxy filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company also named a new board member and announced that its annual stockholders meeting will be held on June 9 at GM's Detroit headquarters.

Barra, 53, became the first woman to lead a major global automaker on Jan. 15. Almost immediately, she was hit with...  (read more)

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1221 Comments

39
votes
If you think this oil rally is over, think again

Market Watch -- Crude-oil futures touched their highest levels of the year this week and they’re not done climbing yet.

Marking their highest settlements since December, West Texas Intermediate crude CLM5, -0.55% the U.S. benchmark, finished Thursday at $57.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude LCOM5, +0.80% the European benchmark, ended Friday at $65.28 a barrel.

Tensions in the Middle East, particularly in Yemen and Saudi Arabia’s involvement, have fueled concerns over supplies in the oil-rich region, giving oil prices a boost.

Prices have also found some support from data Wednesday which showed a weekly decline in U.S. crude production.

“We see near term momentum-driven upside potential from today’s [Brent] price levels, but record U.S. inventory levels (highest in 80 y  (read more)

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652 Comments

37
votes
Gasoline prices will get pumped up next week

San Gabriel Valley Tribune -- Southland motorists should expect to see gasoline hikes of 10 to 20 cents per gallon next week because of refinery problems and other issues, an industry analyst said Friday.

Allison Mac, a petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.com, said Chevron’s Richmond refinery implemented an unplanned shutdown on Tuesday for flaring. That’s when too much pressure builds up due to overpressurizing of equipment and flammable gas is released through pressure-relief valves.

“An equipment outage caused an unplanned shutdown of the fluid catalytic cracking unit, which plays an important role in refining oil to gasoline,” Mac said. “They are back online and back to full capacity.”

That was the same problem that occurred at ExxonMobil’s Torrance refinery in mid-February. That equipment failure ultimately...  (read more)

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1210 Comments

34
votes
Washington state Legislature passes oil train safety bill

Yahoo -- The Washington state Legislature passed a measure Friday to improve the safety of oil transportation amid a sharp increase in the number of oil-carrying freight trains in the state.

Lawmakers reached a compromise on the last day of the regular legislative session to resolve differences between competing versions that earlier cleared the Senate and House.

The Senate voted 46-0 and the House 95-1 on House bill 1449, which now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for consideration.

"It is a step forward in a meaningful sense," Inslee said.

The compromise includes some provisions that Inslee and Democrats had pushed for, including requiring railroads to show they can pay to clean up oil spills.

It extends a barrel tax on boat-transported oil to railroads to help pay for oil spill response but doesn't  (read more)

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451 Comments

33
votes
Customize your own 2015 Dodge Viper GTC

GasBuddy Blog -- A new online customizer allows car shoppers to build 25 million variations of the 2015 Dodge Viper GTC coupe.As previously reported by Edmunds, Dodge dealers began taking orders for the new Viper GTC in February. Production begins this month at Chrysler's Conner Avenue Assembly plant in Detroit.Prices for the Viper GTC start at $99,590, including a $1,995 destination charge and $2,600 gas-guzzler tax, while the base 2015 Viper SRT starts at $89,590, including destination charge and gas-guzzler tax. ...  (read more)

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964 Comments

Friday, April 24, 2015

49
votes
Scientists convinced of tie between earthquakes and drilling

AP -- LOS ANGELES — With the evidence coming in from one study after another, scientists are now more certain than ever that oil and gas drilling is causing hundreds upon hundreds of earthquakes across the U.S.

Up to now, the oil and gas industry has generally argued that any such link requires further study. But the rapidly mounting evidence could bring heavier regulation down on drillers and make it more difficult for them to get projects approved.

The uptick in Oklahoma quakes has prompted state regulators to require a seismic review of all proposed disposal wells. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry, has ordered dozens of disposal wells to stop operating or change the way they are run because of concerns they might be triggering earthquakes, said  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1721 Comments

48
votes
Saudi Arabia’s Solution to Global Oil Glut: Pump Even More Crude

Bloomberg -- Saudi Arabia has a response to the global surplus of oil: Raise output to near-record levels and then pump even more.

The world’s biggest oil exporter, having abandoned last year its role of keeping global markets in balance, now has incentive to maximize output and undermine rival producers by using its reserve capacity, according to Citigroup Inc. and UBS AG. Just meeting its own domestic demand this summer will require a lot more fuel, others estimate.

The increase -- a snub to fellow OPEC members calling on the kingdom to cut production -- will heighten tensions when the organization meets in June. Oil plunged to a six-year low near $45 a barrel in January, six weeks after the Saudis overcame opposition within the group to keep up output despite surging U.S. shale supplies.

 (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1744 Comments

47
votes
Anti-Fracking activist ordered to pay $1k fine

WBNG Binghamton -- Montrose, Pa (WBNG Binghamton) Anti-Fracking activist Vera Scroggins on Thursday appealed a claim she violated a court order in Susquehanna County Court.

The order said she must stay more than 100 feet away from any Cabot Oil and Gas property.

The Susquehanna County Courthouse was overflowing with Scroggins' supporters as she prepared for her fifth hearing with Cabot Oil.

Cabot Oil is also seeking a permanent injunction to keep Scroggins away from its properties.

Court adjourned around 5 p.m. Thursday. Scroggins was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine within 45 days for her violation of the restraining order. The decision on whether to put the permanent junction against her will be decided in the coming days.
 (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1137 Comments

40
votes
Oil at $65 Seen Freeing Half Million Barrels From Shale Fracklog

Bloomberg -- Oil needs to recover to $65 a barrel for U.S. drillers to tap a pent-up supply of oil locked in shale wells and unleash more crude on markets than is produced by Libya.

Dipping into this “fracklog” would add an extra 500,000 barrels a day of oil into the market by the end of next year, Bloomberg Intelligence said in an analysis on Thursday. Producers in oil and gas fields from Texas to Pennsylvania have 4,731 idled wells at their disposal.

Prices are rebounding from a six-year low after drillers idled half the nation’s oil rigs, slowing the shale boom that boosted production to the highest in four decades. The number of wells waiting to be hydraulically fractured, known as the fracklog, has ballooned as companies wait for costs to drop. That could slow the recovery  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
655 Comments

39
votes
The Ethanol Mandate Does A Dishonor to Earth Day

SMARTER FUEL FUTURE -- Last Saturday, thousands of people packed the National Mall to attend the Earth Day concert. This year, organizers sought to highlight the dual problems of poverty and climate change around the world. As concert goers celebrated in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol building, many were likely unaware of the law put in place by their Congressional representatives in that very building, paid for by their tax dollars and implemented in their name that is responsible for increasing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (thereby contributing to climate change), severely polluting our waterways, straining already depleted water supplies, aggravating global hunger and worsening extreme poverty around the world. And while Earth Day revelers may hate the massive environmental and social damage this law continu  (read more)

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117 Comments

Thursday, April 23, 2015

44
votes
New California proposal: Use less electricity, pay more

San Francisco Chronicle -- In the next four years, Californians who use the least electricity may see their utility bills go up — while those who use the most get a break.

State energy regulators on Tuesday proposed major changes to the way residents pay for electricity in the biggest overhaul of utility rates since California’s energy crisis more than a decade ago.

The state’s big, investor-owned utility companies currently charge different prices for electricity based on four “tiers” of usage as a way to encourage conservation. The proposal issued Tuesday by two administrative law judges at the California Public Utilities Commission would cut that number to two tiers by 2019, with only a 20 percent difference between the prices charged for each. Right now, PG&E’s top residential tier charges twice as much for...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 23, 2015 By:
967 Comments

41
votes
Ethane cracker may be built in shale gas-rich Belmont County

cleveland.com -- COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Thai petrochemical and refining company is considering Belmont County as a possible site to build a refinery that would make ethylene and other plastics from shale gas.

PTT Global Chemical, Thailand's largest integrated petrochemical and refining company and the Marubeni Corp., a Japanese investment adviser, have discussed the project for the last two years with JobsOhio and its regional arm, the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth.

If built, such a refinery, often called a "cracker," could cost several billion dollars, create thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 23, 2015 By:
1543 Comments

41
votes
New Engine Design Produces Energy 25 Percent More Efficiently

Ship and Bunker -- A new engine designed by researchers at the University of Texas Arlington may help vessels produce power up to 25 percent more efficiently, the university announced last week.

The new technology reportedly reduces emissions and burns fuel over 30 times faster than conventional gas engines.

It can also potentially run on an array of fuels such as natural gas, propane, kerosene, and diesel.

"Up to 70 percent of energy is lost in current gas turbine combustion engine technology just because that technology hasn't changed in several decades," said Raheem Bello, an aerospace engineering doctoral candidate and co-founder of Afthon, the group behind the engine.

"We capture the bulk of that energy more efficiently so that it's not wasted as heat in the body of the engine."  (read more)

Submitted Apr 23, 2015 By:
1605 Comments

40
votes
Turning Bakken Oil Well Waste Water Into Clean Geothermal Power

Bloomberg -- Oil fracking companies seeking to improve their image and pull in a little extra cash are turning their waste water into clean geothermal power.

For every barrel of oil produced from a well, there’s another seven of water, much of it boiling hot. Instead of letting it go to waste, some companies are planning to harness that heat to make electricity they can sell to the grid.

Companies such as Continental Resources Inc. and Hungary’s MOL Group are getting ready to test systems that pump scalding-hot water through equipment that uses the heat to turn electricity-generating turbines before forcing it back underground to coax out more crude.

Though the technology has yet to be applied broadly, early results are promising. And if widely adopted, the environmental and financial benefits  (read more)

Submitted Apr 23, 2015 By:
572 Comments

37
votes
Sierra Club calls for injection well moratorium in Oklahoma

The Oklahoman -- The Oklahoma Sierra Club called for a moratorium on wastewater injection wells throughout parts of Oklahoma on Wednesday one day after the Oklahoma Geological Survey called the wells the primary suspected source of the state’s ongoing earthquake swarm.

Along with Food & Water Watch, the local Sierra Club said it would like to see water disposal operations halted in the 16 counties the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and the state geological survey have identified as having the most earthquake activity.

12-month pause

“We think a 12-month moratorium would be a long enough pause to get a much better handle on what is going on,” said Johnson Bridgwater, director of Oklahoma Sierra Club. “We do think it would be enough time to give some indication on whether it is having an affect on the...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 23, 2015 By:
350 Comments

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

51
votes
Oil unlikely to hit new 2015 lows – traders

Haynesville.com-Reuters -- Oil prices could weaken again but they are unlikely to plumb new depths this year leading commodities traders said on Tuesday citing strengthening demand.

Ian Taylor head of the world’s largest oil trader Vitol told Reuters he thought global benchmark Brent crude oil, which tumbled 60 percent to just above $45 a barrel in January could dip again briefly.

But the oil market had likely already seen its 2015 lows.

“We will probably see one more dip in the second quarter but prices probably won’t go below this year’s lows,” Taylor told Reuters on the sidelines of the FT Commodities Summit in Lausanne.

Demand was strong and should provide support to oil prices Taylor said.

“Gasoline is coming back with a vengeance. Refining margins are not as bad as we had feared,” he said. Growth...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 22, 2015 By:
1222 Comments

47
votes
Earth Day, bah! Hybrid, EV owners shift to SUVs

USA Today -- Owners of gas-electric hybrids and battery electric vehicles are less and less likely to trade for another one, according to data from auto buying and research site Edmunds.com. Even more surprising: they are increasingly likely to shift to SUVs.

The disenchantment with clean-air fuel savers appears to be the result mainly of relatively low fuel prices, though there also seems to be a decline in their being seen as "special."

"For better or worse, it looks like many hybrid and EV owners are driven more by financial motives rather than a responsibility to the environment," says Edmunds.com Director of Industry Analysis Jessica Caldwell. "Three years ago, when gas was at near-record highs, it was a lot easier to rationalize the price premiums on alternative fuel vehicles. But with today's  (read more)

Submitted Apr 22, 2015 By:
1107 Comments

46
votes
Yemen conflict keeps Brent crude oil around $63

Haynesville.com-Reuters -- Brent crude oil steadied around $63 a barrel on Tuesday not far below the 2015 high supported by worries that a civil war in Yemen could destabilize the Middle East affecting oil supplies.

Oil has climbed around 15 percent this month due to concern over the conflict in Yemen Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbor.

The seaways around Yemen are some of the most important for the international oil trade with access points to the Red Sea and Suez Canal as well as the Middle East Gulf.

The U.S. Navy said on Monday it had sent an aircraft carrier and a guided-missile cruiser into nearby waters.

Brent hit a 2015 high of almost $65 a barrel on April 16, up more than 40 percent from a January low just above $45.

Prices have also been supported by speculation over falling U.S. output after data...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 22, 2015 By:
1203 Comments

45
votes
Tesla Motors to Unveil Home and Utility Batteries April 30

Bloomberg -- Tesla Motors Inc. will announce a home battery and a “very large” utility-scale battery on April 30, according to an e-mail sent to investors and analysts.

The e-mail Tuesday from Jeffrey Evanson, Tesla’s head of investor relations, said the company “will explain the advantages of our solutions and why past battery options were not compelling.” Khobi Brooklyn, a Tesla spokeswoman, said that “we’ll share more information next week,” without confirming the e-mail.

Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk had tweeted on March 30 that Tesla would announce a “major new product line -- not a car -- will be unveiled” on April 30 at the company’s design studio in Hawthorne, California.

The maker of luxury electric cars is using its lithium-ion battery technology to position itself as a front-runner  (read more)

Submitted Apr 22, 2015 By:
314 Comments

43
votes
Chimpanzees look both ways before crossing the street, researchers find

CBC News -- Human pedestrians could learn a thing or two about road safety from chimpanzees, a new study suggests.

Almost all chimpanzees crossing the street look both ways before stepping onto the roadway and while they're crossing.

When crossing in a group, many chimps watched and waited for other members of their party before continuing over to the other side, reported the study led by Marie Cibot.

Some of those precautions can be seen in video footage of the chimps shot by the researchers and posted online by New Scientist.

Cibot and her colleagues observed 122 chimpanzees over 29 months crossing a road in a part of the park where about 89 vehicles zoom by each hour. They observed a number of street-smart practices among the chimps:

¦More than 90% looked both left and right before and during  (read more)

Submitted Apr 22, 2015 By:
955 Comments

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

49
votes
El Pasoans say they'll fight fracking

EL PASO-KTSM -- "There seems to be an air of amnesia in the house of representatives who passed bills just on Friday which ban fracking bans, stripping municipalities of any voice or authority in our decision making process regarding the ground beneath our feet," said Cemelli DeAztlan, El Paso Equal Voice Network.

House bill 40, also known as the Denton Fracking Bill, says that cities don't have the right to ban fracking in their community. Instead, the laws regarding fracking would be made by the state. It's a decision that has many El Pasoans worried.

"Something as fundamental to our well being as our water supply really cant be left in the hands of people who live a thousand miles away from this community," said Aurolyn Luykx, an Anthropology Professor at UTEP who came to Commissioners Court to voi..  (read more)

Submitted Apr 21, 2015 By:
1510 Comments

44
votes
Fuels Institute expects further decline in gasoline usage; increase in hydrogen

GasBuddy Blog --
forbes.comDescribing Millennials and the even younger Generation Z consumers  as having “low drive” isn’t a swipe at their motivational level – it’s more about how little they will be getting behind the wheel. 
Highlighting the trends behind the evolving fuels landscape, John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute and vice president of government operations at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), says that fuel demand in general is down 4%, and he cited data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) with projections putting demand down 22% by 2030. “That’s one out of every four fill-ups that will be gone,” he said. ...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 21, 2015 By:
2968 Comments

42
votes
Big Oil Wants You to Help End U.S. Export Ban

Bloomberg -- In a quest to overturn the decades-old restrictions on exporting American crude, the oil industry is seeking the help of an unlikely ally: consumers.

ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Officer Ryan Lance wants to convince the public that allowing exports would actually help push U.S. gasoline prices down.

Existing policy hurts consumers because, while it keeps U.S. oil prices lower than the global crude benchmark, it doesn’t do much to pass that savings on at the pump, he said. Instead, refiners capable of processing the oil produced by the shale boom profit from lower prices, and then can sell their refined products overseas.

“The ban on exports is anti-consumer,” Lance told reporters after giving a speech at the IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston. The industry “needs to educate people  (read more)

Submitted Apr 21, 2015 By:
1175 Comments

41
votes
Oil up on drop in U.S. crude stockpiles, Middle East tensions

REUTERS -- Oil prices ended in positive territory on Monday after a drop in stockpiles at the delivery point for U.S. crude in the second half of last week outweighed pressure from near record high production in Saudi Arabia.

Tensions after the dispatch of U.S. Navy ships to waters near Yemen and an alert issued by Saudi Arabia for a possible militant attack also put a floor beneath U.K. North Sea Brent and U.S. crude prices traders said..

Brent the more widely-referenced benchmark, settled flat at $63.45 a barrel, after falling more than $1 earlier in the session.

U.S. crude finished up 64 cents at $56.38, after swinging in a band of more than $2.

"There were certainly competing influences with the U.S. crude draw inspiring the bulls while the bears pounced on the record high Saudi output,"...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 21, 2015 By:
1557 Comments

37
votes
Activists want city, county to take a stand against fracking

ABC-7 -- Local residents want the county and the city to take a stand against fracking near El Paso. But this comes as some state lawmakers work to strip local governments of the power to stop fracking.

Torch Light Energy Company recently began drilling test wells on land, which the UT system has leased to the company for fracking miles outside of east El Paso.

Last Friday, the Texas House passed House Bill 40, which would prohibit cities from banning fracking. In Denton, for example, residents voted to ban fracking in their city.
Many lawmakers want to make sure no other city follows those steps.

Fracking is when oil companies extract natural gas from deep in the earth. They do this by drilling deep into the ground and releasing up to 7 million gallons of water with hundreds of chemicals....  (read more)

Submitted Apr 21, 2015 By:
102 Comments