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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Natural gas prices bounce as blizzard blows

CNN -- Prices for natural gas are bouncing this morning in New York as a blizzard blasts through the northeastern United States.
Natural gas futures are up 3.5% to roughly $3 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Traders appear to be expecting a surge in heating demand because of the blizzard.
Roughly half of American households use natural gas for heating and cooking.
The bounce comes as prices have taken a sharp fall over the last few weeks. Natural gas prices have plunged by about 35% since late November as unusually warm temperatures in the eastern United States have crimped overall demand.
Raymond James energy analyst Pavel Molchanov said natural gas prices have "always been notoriously weather-sensitive."
"Right now, in the midst of an epic blizzard (and thi  (read more)

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Iraq Oil Surge to Fan OPEC Rivalry That Triggered Slump

BloombergBusiness -- The battle for customers among OPEC members that helped trigger oil’s collapse is about to escalate.

Iraqi crude production is climbing from a 35-year high as it adds growing Kurdish supplies to its exports while southern oilfields remain unscathed by Islamic State militants. Finding customers for the new output means offering more attractive terms than rivals in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries say Citigroup Inc. DNB ASA and Barclays Plc.

Oil’s biggest slump in six years gained momentum in October as a wave of discounts by Middle Eastern producers signaled OPEC members were intent on defending market share against booming shale output from the U.S. The price of Saudi crude for Asian buyers was cut to the lowest in at least 14 years last month, a move followed by Iraq...  (read more)

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Vessel weighs anchor as oil dispute hangs in scales of justice

Fuel Fix -- An oil tanker anchored off the coast of Galveston since July amid an international legal dispute finally has sailed.

The United Kalavryta carried 1 million barrels of crude from Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. The Baghdad government considered the crude stolen property that had been smuggled out of the country.

As lawyers for Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government debated the fate of the crude in U.S. federal court maritime companies became skittish about becoming involved in the imbroglio and were unwilling to unload the crude for its unidentified buyer.

So the tanker and its cargo remained in international waters about 60 miles off Galveston. Since July the price of crude oil has fallen by more than half diminishing the value of the tanker’s cargo.

It now is headed...  (read more)

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U.S. Gas Prices End Their Record-Breaking Streak of Daily Declines

The Wall Street Journal -- For the first time in four months, gasoline is a little more expensive today than it was yesterday.

The national average price for a gallon of regular gas was $2.038 on Tuesday, up from $2.033 on Monday, according to auto club AAA. That half-cent increase was the first overnight price rise since Sept. 25 and ended the longest streak of daily price declines on record.

AAA said on Monday that prices have slowed their decline in recent days, “largely reflective of a number of Midwestern states where prices have moved higher over the past week due to a series of refinery issues in the region.” The winter storm in the Northeast could briefly send prices higher on worries about distribution, AAA said, but “the longer-term impact is expected to be downward pressure on pump prices from lower  (read more)

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Obama’s Plan: Allow Drilling in Atlantic, but Limit It in Arctic

NY Times -- WASHINGTON — The Obama administration moved Tuesday to open up a vast stretch of East Coast waters to oil and gas drilling, a decision that could have a profound impact on the economic and environmental future of states from Virginia to Georgia. The move also adds a new dimension to the legacy of President Obama.

In an announcement that outraged environmentalists and brought grudging cheers from the oil and gas industry, the Interior Department unveiled the latest part of its five-year plan for the government to sell leases for oil and gas development in federal waters from 2017 to 2022.
 (read more)

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Oil steadies after Opec says prices may have bottomed but risk jump to $200

The National-Reuters -- Brent crude oil prices held above $48 on Tuesday following comments from Opec that prices may have found a floor.

Opec secretary-general Abdullah Al-Badri said oil prices may have bottomed out and he warned of a risk of a future jump to $200 a barrel if investment in new supplies was too low.

“Crude oil markets continue to consolidate near term,” ANZ analysts said, adding that Brent traded in the range of $48-$50 last week and showed little direction.

“Opec’s secretary general commented yesterday that prices may have bottomed, but there was no imminent prospect of Opec producers sitting down to discuss cutbacks until mid-year” ANZ said.

March Brent crude rose 17 cents to $48.33 a barrel at 0347 GMT, after settling down 1.3 per cent on Monday.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Pennsylvania motorists now pay highest gas taxes in U.S.

GasBuddy Blog -- It's official.  Pennsylvania has passed New York and California by earning the dubious distinction of having the highest gasoline taxes in the nation. Combined with the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, Pennsylvania's state tax of 50.5 cpg. brings the combined tax to 68.9 cents per gallon.  Californians pay 63.7 cents per gal., NewYorkers pay 63.4 cents per gal., according to the American Petroleum Institute..

Adding insult to in jury, Pennsylvania plans to take even more money away from its residents later this year. On July 1, annual passenger car and motorcycle registration will rise by $1 to $37 and $19, respectively. Pickup truck registration will rise $1.50, to $60 and antique, classic and collectible vehicle registration by $2, to $77.Vehicle inspection stickers that now cost $5 could also rise, as of July 1. And the base license fee, which does not include the cost of the photo, will rise $1, to $22 on July 1. ...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Analyst: End to gas below $2 coming soon

Fox 5 -- LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -
While we bask in the relief of $1.99 a gallon gasoline, one analyst said Monday the steep price drop shouldn't last very long.
According to Patrick DeHaan of, the $1.99 price seen around the country should be the lowest the recent drops will get before a standard seasonal lift.

“Refineries have been processing less crude oil and thus producing less gasoline, which will contribute to a soft bottoming out of the national average before a small recovery back in the very low $2's," said DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst with gas price indicating website.

DeHaan, though, said 2015 should have far lower prices than the previous year.

“We'll be subject to a seasonal lift in gasoline prices as refineries slow production to do maintenance and to make  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Oil slides despite OPEC talk of a floor

Reuters -- Reuters) - Oil fell in see-saw trade on Monday, with U.S. crude ending at its lowest in nearly six years, as traders discounted comments from OPEC's top official about the market finally finding a bottom.

It was an up-and-down session for crude, which gyrated along with the U.S. dollar in the wake of a decisive Greek election victory by the left-wing Syriza party.

Prices initially rallied after OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri said oil may have hit a floor and could move higher very soon, the first comments he has made on the subject during crude's seven-month-long price rout.

But the gains proved fleeting as global benchmark Brent LCOc1 fell 1.3 percent to $48.16. U.S. crude CLc1 lost almost 1 percent, settling at $45.15, the lowest settlement price for the existing front-month  (read more)

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Justice Department spies on millions of cars: WSJ

Reuters -- Reuters) - The Justice Department has been secretly gathering and storing hundreds of millions of records about motorists in an effort to build a national database that tracks the movement of vehicles across the country, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The newspaper said the main aim of the license plate tracking program run by the Drug Enforcement Administration was to seize automobiles, money and other assets to fight drug trafficking, according to one government document.

But the use of the database had expanded to include hunting for vehicles linked to other possible crimes, including kidnapping, killings and rape suspects, the paper said, citing current and former officials and government documents.

While U.S. officials have said they track vehicles near the Mexican bor  (read more)

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Monday, January 26, 2015

For Saudis, Falling Demand for Oil Is the Biggest Concern

Bloomberg -- As the world’s oil producers wring their hands over a global glut that’s pushing down prices, evidence is mounting that Saudi Arabia is more concerned about shrinking demand.

The world’s largest exporter has chosen not to cut production, counting instead on lower prices to stimulate consumption, said Mohammad Al Sabban, an adviser to Saudi Arabia’s petroleum minister from 1988 to 2013. The Saudis are keeping an eye on investments in fuel efficiency and renewable energy, according to Francisco Blanch, Bank of America Corp.’s head of global commodity research.

“Nobody should imagine the world will continue to demand oil as long as you have it in your fields” Al Sabban said in an interview. “We need to prepare ourselves for that stage.”

The U.S. shale revolution showed that forecasts of...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 26, 2015 By:

Local drivers don’t want gas tax to increase

Journal News -- With average gasoline prices at their lowest in years, some lawmakers are tinkering with a proposal to increase the federal gas tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1993.
The gas tax is 18.4 cents a gallon, and diesel fuel tax is 24.4 cents a gallon. The taxes bring in approximately $34 billion a year to the federal Highway Trust Fund, but the government spends about $50 billion a year. The trust fund has been the main source of federal transportation aid to states for more than 60 years.  (read more)

Submitted Jan 26, 2015 By:

Gas Prices Expected To Rise Again Soon, Say Experts

HNGN -- Despite the recent decline in gas prices across the country, experts expect them to rise due to the increase in crude oil prices.

The average gallon of gas in the United States dropped 13 cents in the past two weeks to $2.07 while crude oil prices have increased in the last 10 days, industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday, according to the Los Angeles Times. The price of gas is 37 percent lower than this time last year.

The Energy Department believes that the average U.S. family will spend $750 less on gas than in 2014 because the average price will decrease from $3.36 to $2.33. However, Lundberg said the increase in crude oil prices will eventually be seen at the pump, the Seattle Times reported.

The decrease in crude oil prices is a result of onshore oil fields in North Dakota  (read more)

Submitted Jan 26, 2015 By:

Airasia Scraps Fuel Surcharges As Oil Price Plummets

AP -- Southeast Asia's biggest budget carrier AirAsia is scrapping fuel surcharges on tickets following the decline in global oil prices.

AirAsia said the move also applies to flights under its long-haul arm AirAsia X.

Oil prices are now below $50 per barrel after 6 months of declines, pushing down jet fuel prices.

Chief Executive Tony Fernandes said the move will help reduce travel costs, stimulate demand and boost tourism in the region.

Airlines impose the surcharges to pass on higher fuel costs to travelers when fuel prices are rising.

Rivals Virgin Australia and Cebu Pacific in the Philippines abolished fuel surcharges earlier this month.

AirAsia has dominated cheap travel in Southeast Asia for years but faces rising competition from the proliferation of discounts airlines in Asia.  (read more)

Submitted Jan 26, 2015 By:

'Not Mayberry anymore': Oil patch cops scramble to keep up

CBS News -- WATFORD CITY, N.D. (AP) — Police chief Art Walgren knew how much the oil boom had changed this once-sleepy town when he spotted something that would have been unheard of not long ago: license plates from Sinaloa, Mexico, home to one of the world's most violent drug cartels.

Before, there was little chance police would see cars here from nearly 2,000 miles away. And little reason to worry about out-of-state plates. Now, though, police are scrambling to deal with new kinds of suspicious activity and threats that have cropped up along this frozen prairie.

The gusher of oil and money flowing from the Bakken fields has made policing more demanding and dangerous, forcing small-town officers, county sheriffs and federal agents to confront everything from bar fights to far-reaching methamphetami  (read more)

Submitted Jan 26, 2015 By:

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Long-term solution for wastewater disposal eludes shale gas industry

TRIBLIVE -- Defining wastewater disposal in the Marcellus shale fields has been a moving target.

Drillers initially sent millions of gallons to public water treatment plants, until regulators said the plants were not equipped to properly clean the salt- and metal-laden water that comes from shale gas wells. The traditional method of injecting it back into deep wells is less feasible in Pennsylvania, which has few such wells, and Ohio is accepting less wastewater because of potential links between injection and earthquakes.

The search for a solution has spawned an industry of companies and innovators looking for ways to treat or reuse the wastewater that environmentalists feared would foul drinking supplies.

“They can barge all this water somewhere else or reuse it, which is what we're seeing now,”  (read more)

Submitted Jan 25, 2015 By:

Minnesota drivers: Get ready for more roundabouts

Star Tribune -- Circle the (station) wagons — more roundabouts are on the way. Roundabouts are taking on a prominent role in Minnesota’s transportation planning. More than 140 have been built since the state’s first roundabout opened 20 years ago in Brooklyn Park, with the pace picking up rapidly in recent years. Another 40 are either under construction or in planning. There are dozens of roundabouts in the Twin Cities, but you’ll also find them in places like Fergus Falls, Grand Rapids, Rochester and Worthington. Blue Earth is getting three, and six are on the drawing board for Mankato. Studies have shown that roundabouts have significant advantages over four-way intersections controlled by traffic signals. Roundabouts have fewer accidents overall, and far fewer that result in death or serious injury. Th  (read more)

Submitted Jan 25, 2015 By:

Canada Report: Collapse in oil prices prompts move to stabilize economy

Tampa Bay Times -- The rapid collapse of oil prices has prompted the Bank of Canada to cut its trendsetting interest rate to stabilize the economy.

"The drop in oil prices is unambiguously negative for the Canadian economy" central bank governor Stephen Poloz said as the rate fell to 0.75 percent from 1 percent, which it had been at for four years.

As an oil-producing nation — the U.S. buys more crude from Canada than from any other country — the economic impact of cheap fuel threatens Canada's economic rebound and a return to a balanced federal budget.

So far Canada's commercial banks have made no move to lower their prime-lending rate still at 3 percent.

The rate cut immediately caused the Canadian dollar to fall by about 3 cents from a week ago to the 80-cent U.S. range, but it boosted stock markets.  (read more)

Submitted Jan 25, 2015 By:

Why Oil Prices May Not Recover Anytime Soon

Motley Fool -- There is a sharp split among energy experts about the future direction of oil prices. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal recently stated that oil prices could keep falling for quite a while and opined that $100 a barrel oil will never come back. Earlier this month, investment bank Goldman Sachs weighed in by slashing its short-term oil price target from $80 a barrel all the way to $42 a barrel.

But there are still plenty of optimists like billionaire T. Boone Pickens, who has vocally argued that oil will bounce back to $100 a barrel within 12 months-18 months. Pickens thinks that Saudi Arabia will eventually give in and cut production. However, this may be wishful thinking. Supply and demand fundamentals point to more lean times ahead for oil producers.

Oil supply is comfortably ahead of de  (read more)

Submitted Jan 25, 2015 By:

The Oil Price Tag That Investors Say Would Signal a Global Recession

Forbes -- The decline of oil prices to less than $50 a barrel has an undeniably positive effect on the global economy. From the U.S. to China, people are driving more and spending more, a much needed economic boost in generally glum times.

But to investors, a too-low oil price can also be a sign of trouble. The price of oil has certainly dropped because of an increase in supply – specifically, OPEC’s refusal to cut production and the vast amount of shale oil and gas being pumped in the United States. But the price of oil is also a product of slowing economic growth and declining demand, especially from China, Japan and the Eurozone.
So what exactly is too low when it comes to oil prices? According to a recent survey of investors, the tipping point may be around $30.

 (read more)

Submitted Jan 25, 2015 By:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Some homes near Montana oil spill report dark ooze after flushing taps -- Residents of a Montana town whose water supply was tainted by an oil pipeline rupture last week got the all-clear on Friday to turn taps back on, though some reported brown or black material spurting from faucets even after their pipes were flushed.

Drinking supplies for some 6,000 people in and around the community of Glendive became contaminated last Saturday when an estimated 1,200 barrels of crude oil was spilled into the Yellowstone River from a pipeline breach several miles upstream from the northeastern Montana town.

Initial testing of Glendive's water, which is drawn from the river, showed levels of benzene, a cancer-causing constituent of petroleum, well above levels considered safe for human health by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Results of subsequent testing...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 24, 2015 By:

Exxon gets $1 million penalty for Yellowstone River spill

CBS News -- BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal officials have issued a $1 million penalty against Exxon Mobil Corp. for safety violations stemming from a pipeline rupture in 2011 that spilled 63,000 gallons of crude into Montana's Yellowstone River.

The Department of Transportation order issued Friday reduces the penalty as originally proposed by about $700,000. That comes after the Irving, Texas-based oil company challenged some claims that it didn't do enough to prevent the accident.

The pipeline break during summer flooding near Laurel left oil along an 85-mile stretch of the Yellowstone, killing fish and wildlife and prompting a cleanup that took months.

Safety regulators said in part that Exxon Mobil had failed to adequately heed warnings that its 20-year-old Silvertip Pipeline was at risk.

The c  (read more)

Submitted Jan 24, 2015 By:

Oil Falls to Lowest Since '09 as Saudis Signal Continuity

Kazinform -- Oil fell to the lowest in almost six years on speculation the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia won't signal any change in strategy for the world's largest crude exporter.
U.S. benchmark oil futures slid 1.6 percent reversing an initial gain of as much as 3.1 percent. Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud who succeeds Abdullah on the throne, said he would maintain his predecessor's policies. The kingdom will not cut production to boost prices because other producers would fill in the gap, Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud said. U.S. crude inventories rose the most since 2001 last week, according to a government report on Thursday.

"There already has been a pretty well established succession plan so it's not a big deal" said Kyle Cooper director of commodities research at IAF Advisors...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 24, 2015 By:

$2 gasoline: Good times keep rolling at the pump

Detroit News -- At some point this will end, perhaps even soon. The price of gasoline will not fall to zero.

But for the first time since 2009, most Americans are paying less than $2 a gallon. Just three months ago, experts were shocked when it fell under $3.

According to fuel forecaster, motorists in Michigan are seeing the greatest savings nationwide; on average they’re paying $1.36 less today than they paid one year ago.

On Friday, the average price per gallon of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $1.93.

“It’s crazy,” said Michael Noel, an economics professor at Texas Tech University who studies oil and gasoline prices. “But for consumers it’s very, very good.”

Consumers and the economies of the U.S. and most of the rest of the world are basking in the lowest prices for  (read more)

Submitted Jan 24, 2015 By:

TD expert tells Canadian oil producers to brace for a second shock

The Globe and Mail - OTTAWA -- Canada’s oil producers are being told to brace for more bad news, even as they struggle to cope with a collapse that has driven prices down by 60% from their peak last Jun
With global production continuing to exceed demand, crude prices are set to head lower and WTI should average just $41 in the 1st half of this year, TD economist said in a report Fri. She expects WTI prices to sink below $40 as bulging inventories weigh on the market in the next few months
“Oil prices are likely follow more of a U-shaped recovery pattern than the V-shaped pattern that typically follows such sharp price declines. The U.S. benchmark to average just $53 in the 2nd half of the year, and $65 next year
Crude prices fell another 70 cents Fri to $45.60 and lost more than $3 on the week amid further evidence that  (read more)

Submitted Jan 24, 2015 By: