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Group hopes to ban older diesel trucks

Portland Tribune -- Mary Peveto made her name as an activist prodding Esco Corp. to reduce toxic air emissions near her children’s school in Northwest Portland.

Now Peveto and the grassroots group she co-founded, Neighbors for Clean Air, are tackling a bigger goal: ridding Oregon of dirty diesel engines.

Ever since California moved to phase out the use of older diesel vehicles and off-road commercial rigs there, many have found their way into Oregon — freight trucks, school buses and bulldozers — and some fear those will grow more numerous as more of California’s rolling deadlines take effect.

“We can’t let Oregon be the leading market for dirty diesel engines, and that’s going to happen,” Peveto says.

Older diesel trucks and off-road construction and other commercial rigs spew microscopic particles  (go to article)

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Oil near six-year lows after U.S. stockpiles hit record high

Today -- SINGAPORE - Oil remained weak in Asia on Thursday after data showing record U.S. stockpiles sent prices tumbling to the lowest level in nearly six years in the previous session and analysts said a global glut would continue to keep the market under pressure.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said domestic crude oil stocks rose by almost 9 million barrels last week to reach nearly 407 million, the highest level since the government began keeping records in 1982.

"The market expects stockpiles to keep rising, pushing front-month prices further down as refineries enter maintenance season and are likely run at lower utilisation rates," ANZ said in a note.

Prices on Thursday stuck close to the previous settlement levels. Brent was trading at $48.65 a barrel at 0255 GMT  (go to article)

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Union workers press their case for contract demands at Lyondell refinery

Fuel Fix -- In an effort to show support for ongoing labor negotiations, about 150 employees of LyondellBasell Refinery in Houston fanned out in front of the plant late Wednesday afternoon.

The employees, many still in their blue work jumpsuits, carried signs that read “Fair Contract Now” and “Solidary is Strength” while passing drivers honked their horns.

The rally, which was scheduled for afternoon shift change, was organized by the United Steelworkers union, which is conducting nationwide oil worker bargaining negotiations at an undisclosed location. Local union officials are also trying to hammer out what’s known as “local issues” at each plant.

Current contracts expire at 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 1. for most of the 30,000 oil workers – including 5,000 in Houston – covered by the labor agreements.

 (go to article)

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Detroit auto show: What in this world is Toyota's FV2 concept?

MLive -- Is it a glorified motorcycle? A bobsled made for roads? A futuristic transport pod?

Whatever you'd call it, Toyota's FV2 concept was in Detroit for the 2015 North American International Auto Show. Unveiled at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, the vehicle is meant to signal a future in which driving is not only fun, but a bonding experience between man and machine.

Though a bit of a sideshow at Toyota's expansive stand in the Cobo Center, the FV2 still drew a crowd. At random, it would shift from side to side, while a series of colorful light designs moved across its black, pod-like body.

As explained in the video below, the FV2 is moved by the body balance of the driver, sort of like if you're sledding down a hill of snow. It has no steering wheel.(VIDEO)  (go to article)

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When oil prices fall, Big Oil has an advantage

Marketplace -- It's not that big oil companies love low oil prices, but a part of them doesn't mind. Companies like Shell, BP, ExxonMobil and Chevron — which report earnings over the next few days — aren't just producers selling crude oil. They're also refiners, buying crude and selling gasoline. When crude prices drop, that's good for the refinery side of the business.

The big producers have another big advantage: long-term planning. "They're always looking at least 10 to 20 years down the road, so they're not a quarter-to-quarter type company," says James Sweeney, a Stanford University professor who studies energy policy.

On the other hand, thousands of smaller producers borrowed money to finance their drilling. Low oil prices are likely putting some of them "in bankruptcy mode," says David Bellman  (go to article)

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Startling closing argument in Toyota crash case catches automaker off-guard

Star Tribune -- In an 11th-hour bombshell in the federal trial of Toyota Motor Co. on Wednesday, the attorney for the driver unveiled his theory for what caused a Camry to speed up, crashing into another car in 2006 and resulting in three deaths.

Toyota’s attorneys appeared to be caught off guard. Since the car company delivered its closing arguments first, it had no chance to rebut.

Jury deliberations began Wednesday afternoon, and will resume Thursday.

Driver Koua Fong Lee lost control of his Camry, said his attorney Bob Hilliard, because each time he tapped the gas pedal on the long exit ramp off eastbound Interstate 94 at Snelling Avenue, the car accelerated.

The 1995 Camry got stuck at higher and higher speeds, Hilliard said, so when Lee pumped the brakes he was unable to stop and he rear-ended a  (go to article)

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Hawaii’s Solar Push Strains the Grid as solar heads toward 80 percent of peak power.

Technology Review -- The prospect of cheaper, petroleum-free power has lured the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) to quintuple utility-scale solar capacity over the past year, building two 12-megawatt photovoltaic arrays. These facilities are the biggest and a significant contributor to the island’s 78-megawatt peak power supply. When the second plant comes online this summer, peak solar output on Kauai will approach 80 percent of power generation on some days, according to Brad Rockwell, the utility’s power supply manager.

That puts Kauai on the leading edge of solar power penetration, and KIUC has bruises to show for it. Power fluctuations from a first large plant installed in 2012 have already largely burned out the big batteries installed to keep solar from destabilizing the island’s grid.

Now KIU  (go to article)

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Crude settles at $44.45 after Fed; lowest level since March 2009

cnbc -- U.S. crude prices tumbled on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve reiterated that it will be "patient" in raising rates from record lows but noted that inflation remains well below its target rate.

In a statement after its latest policy meeting, the Fed made clear that no rate increase is imminent. Chair Janet Yellen said after last month's meeting that by saying it would be "patient," the Fed was signaling there would be no rate increase for at least two meetings.

The Fed's statement Wednesday said the factors holding inflation below its 2 percent target rate have intensified since its last meeting in December. Inflation has stayed ultra-low partly because of a plunge in energy prices and a steadily strengthening dollar.

U.S. crude for March delivery hit an intraday low of $44.08 after  (go to article)

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US crude holds near 6-year lows on record stock build

cnbc -- U.S. crude futures were trading near 6-year lows just below $44.50 a barrel in early Asian trade on Thursday, remaining under pressure after data showing U.S. crude stocks surged to their highest on record.

U.S. crude's front-month contract shed 1 cent at $44.44 a barrel as of 0000 GMT. In the previous session, it settled down $1.78, or almost 4 percent, to $44.45 a barrel. It hit a low of $44.08 before the close, the weakest since April 2009.
Benchmark Brent crude closed down $1.13, or 2.3 percent, at $48.47, after a session low at $48.29.

U.S. crude inventories rose by 8.9 million barrels during the week, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Analysts had expected an increase of 4.1 million barrels. The bulk of the rise, 5.5 million barrels, occurred in the Gulf  (go to article)

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Official: ND pipeline that spilled 3M gallons of saltwater not inspected by state

Associated Press -- A pipeline that ruptured recently in North Dakota and spilled nearly 3 million gallons of saltwater produced during oil drilling wasn't inspected by the state before being installed, according to state regulators.

Alison Ritter, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which oversees the state's oil and gas industry, said Wednesday that it's common for officials not to inspect such small gathering pipelines before they become operational.

North Dakota has struggled to find qualified installation inspectors because candidates are often drawn to lucrative jobs in the oil industry, Ritter said. Instead, the state has to rely on the word of companies, which are required to file an affidavit stating that they've followed state-mandated procedures when implementing the smaller  (go to article)

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Where Is All That Excess Oil Going?

NPR -- There's a term traders use when the price of a commodity like oil has fallen because of oversupply but seems guaranteed to rise again.
It's a market that's "in contango,". "It almost sounds like a sort of great oil dance or something."

Some oil speculators see an oil market that is in contango in a major way.

"Some people out there think that oil is going to get more expensive so it's worthwhile now to buy oil, lock it in, and have those supplies, have them stored and have them available to sell a few months down the line, if you actually believe it's going to go up,".

The last time this happened was in 2008-2009, after the price of crude oil plummeted to about $35 barrel amid a global downturn. At least 70 million barrels were stored on tankers until the price rebounded.
 (go to article)

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Gas prices finally stop falling

CNN Money -- The steady four-month decline in gas prices which has saved motorists more than a dollar per gallon has ended, at least for the moment.

The average price of a gallon of regular gas edged up a fraction of a penny to take the national average to $2.04 from $2.03 on Tuesday, according to AAA. It marked the first increase in 123 days, the longest such streak on record. Wednesday, the average price stayed unchanged.
Before this week, the last time the average price increased was November 25, when the national average stood at $3.35 a gallon.

This week's slight uptick followed increases in wholesale gas prices and crude oil prices on commodity markets earlier this week. The death of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud last week prompted some uncertainty in markets on whether the Saudi  (go to article)

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Kinder Eyes Pipeline to Export Ultra Light Oil From West

Bloomberg -- Kinder Morgan, the world’s largest pipeline company by market value, is proposing a link that would give the ultra light oil from Texas fields a second path out of the country.

The company is marketing a pipeline that would be capable of carrying 200,000 bbls/day of oil and 100,000 of ultra light crude known as condensate to central California from Texas, Tom Martin, president of Kinder Morgan’s gas pipelines, said in a presentation on Wednesday. From there the condensate could move to Asia, where petrochemical plants are boosting demand for lighter oil.

Condensate has emerged as one of the few exceptions to a four-decade ban that keeps most crude from leaving the country. Federal regulators have been issuing rulings since last year allowing companies to send the processed oil abroad fro  (go to article)

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North Dakota jobs boom in danger as oil prices plummet

AljazeeraAmerica -- The shale oil boom of the last five years has brought soaring housing prices to Williston, North Dakota, where a 700-square-foot apartment costs an average of $2,394 a month. Rootless, job-seeking newcomers have occasionally resorted to sleeping in their vehicles, unable to afford the highest rent in the nation.

“We’ve seen people living in their motor vehicles through the last five years, because of housing prices being expensive,” said Williston Police Department’s public information officer, Detective David Peterson.

But as oil prices have plunged over the last seven months from about $100 a barrel to below $50, the possibility of a bust for this boomtown has raised fears that those who once enjoyed higher-than-average salaries and free housing from oil companies contingent upon emplo  (go to article)

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The Obama oil boom

KITV4ABC -- NEW YORK (CNNMoney) —The greatest oil boom in this nation's history has occurred during the tenure of self-proclaimed environmentalist Barack Obama.Under Obama, the steady drop in U.S. oil production which had occurred virtually unchecked since 1971 has been reversed. Crude oil production has risen every year of his administration. It has jumped 72% since he took office, producing about 3.6 million additional barrels a day during that time.

Oil production has grown so much that last summer the nation caught and passed Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer. Before Obama leaves office, domestic oil production could top the U.S. record set in 1970.

A combination of new technology, primarily fracking, has unlocked oil that was previously out of reach of drillers...  (go to article)

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King Coal Is Merrily Fiddling the Taxpayer

Newsweek -- In 2002, the Powder River Basin (PRB) in Wyoming and Montana surged past the Appalachian coalfields that stretch from Pennsylvania to Tennessee to become the nation’s largest coal-producing region. Today, the PRB occupies a 40 percent share of the U.S. coal market.

Although market forces, mechanization and technological changes help explain some of the coal industry’s decision to shift more production from privately owned lands in the East to federal lands in the American West, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) coal policies have played an equally important—though largely unnoticed—role in this transition.

Specifically, the DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) use their royalty-collection authority to subsidize coal production on  (go to article)

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Colorado slashes funding for immigrant drivers licenses, shutters four of five offices

fox news latino -- Colorado has dramatically slashed funding to its program granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants – making it almost impossible for any new applicants to receive an appointment before 2016.

As a result of the cut, only one DMV office in the state is now able to offer driver's license appointments to the estimated 150,000 undocumented immigrants who are eligible to apply. The next available appointment is in March 2016.  (go to article)

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Michigan road plan costs taxpayers $410M in lost deductions

Detroit News -- The $1.2 billion road-funding plan endorsed by Gov. Rick Snyder may leave a $102 million pothole in the pockets of as many as 1.2 million Michigan taxpayers who deduct vehicle registration fees on their federal income taxes.

Economist Patrick Anderson's East Lansing-based firm says the "far reaching and complicated" road funding package lawmakers slapped together on the last day of December's lame duck session will likely cause federal income tax bills to rise.

That's because lawmakers changed the tax on vehicle registrations from an ad valorem property tax to a "straightforward excise tax," the Anderson Economic Group said in a report published Wednesday.

But the federal tax code only allows taxpayers to deduct the cost of vehicle registration taxes if it was property tax, meaning taxa  (go to article)

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US House Passes Bill Aimed at Expediting Natural Gas Exports

AP via Downstream Today -- The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill aimed at expediting approvals of natural gas exports.

In a 277-133 vote, the House approved a bill giving the Energy Department a 30-day deadline to authorize natural gas exports from facilities after they are reviewed and approved.

It's the third energy-related bill passed by the House this Congress. They have also approved bills authorizing construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and fast-tracking new natural gas pipelines.

"Unfortunately, our nation's energy infrastructure, mired in red tape and an outdated permitting process, has failed to keep up with today's growing pace of energy production," said House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, whose state which has received three  (go to article)

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US West Coast refiners take advantage of US-Singapore FTA to export more

Platts -- Shell has joined BP, Phillips 66, and other West Coast refiners in capitalizing on the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement by exporting clean product to Singapore, Platts data showed Wednesday.

"You can't do much but export. West Coast is a net export market. Any country there is [a free trade agreement] with, there is no import duty, or minimal if any," a West Coast refined products source said.

The US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement -- signed in 2004 -- immediately resulted in zero tariffs on all US products to Singapore. Also, gasoline product exports to Singapore are not subject to RINS costs, making exports even more appealing for refiners.

Shell has charted the Silver Cindy to export gasoline to Singapore, market sources said. The Silver Cindy -- a 38,000 mt MR that is capable of car  (go to article)

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Thune urges White House to delay tank car safety rules

USA TODAY -- An Obama administration effort to boost the safety of tank cars used to transport crude and other materials by train could disrupt the country’s already congested rail network if an unrealistic proposal is allowed to go forward, the head of the powerful Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee said Wednesday.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who chairs the Senate panel that oversees the country’s railroads, said the government was moving too quickly with a proposal for phasing out or retrofitting older freight-rail tank cars known as DOT-111 that carry crude oil and ethanol. The Transportation Department is to finalize the regulations on May 12, before giving the rail industry two years to comply.
 (go to article)

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Hamm: Oil prices could rise sooner than you think

FuelFix.com -- HOUSTON — The market doesn’t understand just how quickly oil companies are scaling back their activities, and as a result, oil prices could rebound faster than many observers expect, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm said Wednesday.

Hamm, addressing the Argus Americas Crude Summit in downtown Houston, noted the slew of companies that have quickly pulled back on their capital expenditures as oil prices have fallen by more than 50 percent since the summer.

He said exploration and production companies can’t afford to borrow money, and falling stock prices make it hard to raise cash by issuing equity. “You’re limited in what you can do if you don’t conserve cash,” said Hamm, whose company is primarily active in North Dakota and Oklahoma.  (go to article)

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We are about to find out how much pain the great oil crash has unleashed

Bloomberg News -- The world’s biggest oil producers, historically resilient with their mix of energy exploration, refining and chemical manufacturing, are about to reveal how they are weathering the great oil crash
Financial results will start trickling in Thu for Exxon, Shell, Chevron, Total and BP from a Q4 that saw the price of oil drop from $115 to below $50
“The issue for this group of companies is they don’t have bulletproof business models.A 57% plunge in the price of oil since Jun really tests your convictions
Companies that pump 1/10 of the world’s crude scramble to tighten budgets and preserve cash for dividends, buybacks and capital projects too far along to abandon
BP froze wages, Chevron delayed its 2015 budget and Shell canceled a $6.5B Persian Gulf investment; layoffs have topped 30,000
Panic  (go to article)

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Oil drops on record-high U.S. crude stocks as pressure mounts

Reuters -- NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices fell on Wednesday after the U.S. government reported record-high crude inventories, adding to anxieties about the global glut that has pressured the market since last summer.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said domestic crude oil stocks rose by almost 9 million barrels last week to reach nearly 407 million, their highest since the government began keeping records in 1982.

 (go to article)

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Wall St. Journal says U.S. 'intelligence gathering' tracks millions of us and our vehicles

GasBuddy Blog -- Did you know that in the name of crime-fighting and tracking people who may be involved in drug-trafficking, the Drug Enforcement Agency's database is expanding to track the movements of millions of us in our vehicles? 

A new report from the Wall Street Journal says the Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists.

Does it worry you that 'Big Brother' may indeed be watching you that closely? ...  (go to article)

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Nissan recalls 768,000 crossovers and SUVs for separate problems

Reuters -- Nissan Motor Co is recalling about 768,000 vehicles, including its popular Rogue crossover and Pathfinder SUV, for separate problems, the company and U.S. regulators said on Wednesday.

Some 552,135 Rogues from model years 2008 and 2013 will be recalled because moisture could seep through the driver side floor and cause an electrical short to wiring that could lead to a fire, Nissan and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said. Of the total, 468,815 are registered in the United States.
 (go to article)

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Cenovus latest to slash 2015 capital budget on low oil prices

Canadian Press -- Cenovus Energy has lowered its 2015 capital budget to between $1.8-$2B, which is about $700M less than the previous estimate and more than 15% below last year’s spending levels
The latest capital spend reduction comes 6 wks after the company announced a planned budget drop to between $2.5-$2.7B, down from the the $3-$3.1B
It’s also looking for ways to reduce annual operating and cost reductions by between $400-500M in the yrs ahead
The Calgary-based oil producer and refiner is making the move to preserve cash in response to further erosion in oil prices.It’s suspending most of its conventional drilling program in S AB and SK, but will continue projects at the Christina Lake and Foster Creek oilsands in N AB
Cenovus CEO believes crude oil prices will rebound, but the timing is uncertain
 (go to article)

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EIA: Crude oil inventories surge again, while gasoline inventories drop

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

Here are some highlights:

CRUDE INVENTORIES:
Crude oil inventories increased by 8.9 million barrels to a total of 406.7 million barrels. At 406.7 million barrels, inventories are 49.1 million barrels above last year (13.7%) and are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

GASOLINE INVENTORIES:
Gasoline inventories decreased by 2.6 million barrels to 238.3 million barrels. At 238.3 million barrels, inventories are up 3.9 million barrels, or 1.7% higher than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (-1.7mb); Midwest (+0.3mb); Gulf Coast (-0.3mb); Rockies (-0.2mb); and West Coast (-0.6mb). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this informa  (go to article)

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Falling crude prices will leave oilfield services companies ‘parked,’ may trigger layoffs

Financial Post -- CALGARY – Depressed oil prices will cause many producers to drill, but not draw from, new wells, with the result that oilfield service companies will suffer from the drop in activity, the head of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada said Tuesday.

“The wells in some cases will be drilled and not completed,” PSAC president Mark Salkeld said in an interview, adding that companies would drill those wells just to satisfy contractual obligations on their leases. “The ripple effect to our members is that we’re parked.”
 (go to article)

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Crude oil bottom seen at $40: CNBC Fed survey

CNBC -- Crude oil's free fall may be close to bottoming, according to CNBC's January Fed Survey.

Wall Streeters in the survey forecast that the lowest price for WTI crude in the current downturn will be $40 on average per barrel, about $6 below its current price. Among the 33 economists, money managers and investment strategists surveyed, the range of bottom estimates was $25 to $48.
 (go to article)

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The New Tesla Car Has A Button Called ‘Insane Mode’

Business Insider -- Tesla introduced its dual-motor Model S late last year, and among the many improvements it has over the original Model S is its incredible acceleration.
The standard Model S can go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, which is pretty fast, but the new dual-motor Model S can get there in just 3.2 seconds — "roller-coaster stuff," in other words.

That kind of acceleration is comparable to some of the world’s fastest sports cars from Lamborghini and Ferrari, and even the McLaren F1 supercar.

You can go into “Insane Mode" by coming to a complete stop and toggling a button on the digital console, which will quickly accelerate the car to 60 to 70 mph in just a few wild seconds.

Most people have the same shocked reaction, as no one is really expecting “Insane Mode” to actually live up to its promi  (go to article)

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Goldman sees WTI close to $40 per barrel

Fox Business News -- Goldman Sachs said on Wednesday it expected prices for WTI crude oil to trade close to $40 per barrel for most of the first half of 2015 in one of the lowest forecasts among major investment banks.

Goldman, one of the most active banks in commodities, said that after a very weak first half prices should recover to $65 per barrel for WTI and $70 for Brent.

"This suggests a strong recovery from current prices, but the timing is uncertain and we would wait for signs of stabilization (less inventory build and better roll yields) before shifting to a more positive stance on commodities," Goldman said in a note.  (go to article)

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Gasoline line space on Colonial flips to negative values

Platts -- Colonial Pipeline line space for gasoline flipped to negative values Tuesday, suggesting that the line's biggest shippers were willing to pay to have it taken off their hands.

Space on the nation's largest pipeline, the 1.37 million b/d Line 1 from Texas to North Carolina, was heard traded midday Tuesday at minus 75 points for Colonial's sixth cycle, compared with 1.25 cents on Monday.

Line space at negative values points to a willingness by Colonial's biggest shippers to pay to ensure their line space is used. Shippers retain history with Colonial in a line space transaction. Line space reflects the premium or discount paid for access to the pipeline, with the buyer taking fuel off the line at an agreed-upon point as the shipper receives an equal amount of fuel at the origin.

A US refi  (go to article)

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Union signals U.S. refinery workers may have to strike

Reuters -- The United Steelworkers union signaled on Monday a strike by U.S. refinery workers may be necessary to win what it calls a fair contract from oil companies.

The last nationwide refinery workers strike was in 1980 and lasted for three months.

Union and oil company negotiators met for a sixth day of negotiations on Monday ahead of the current contract expiring at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday in the time zone where each refinery is located.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc is leading the talks on behalf of companies ranging from supermajors such as Exxon Mobil Corp and BP Plc to smaller companies such as HollyFrontier Corp and Delek.

"Challenging bargaining continues," the USW said in a text message to members on Monday night. "Industry still isn't getting serious. Local unions are preparing to do whatever  (go to article)

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Ford recalls cars, vans for door latch and seat belt trouble

AP -- DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Ford is recalling more than 221,000 cars and vans to fix problems with door latches and seat belts.

The biggest recall covers nearly 205,000 Ford Taurus, Lincoln MKS and Police Interceptor models in North America from the 2010 to 2013 model years. Ford says a door latch spring can become unseated, allowing the door to unlatch in a side-impact crash. The company says it knows of no injuries from the problem. Dealers will inspect the latches and replace door handles if needed.  (go to article)

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Cheap gas, powerful vehicles make it hard to meet CAFE

USA Today -- DETROIT -- There is a growing rift between the bigger and more powerful vehicles consumers want to buy and the fuel-efficient vehicles the government wants automakers to make — and the disconnect was eye-poppingly evident at the just concluded auto show here.

The crowds were deep around the 600-horsepower Ford GT and Acura NSX supercars, a 640-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V and the larger-than life Ford F-150 Raptor and Ram Rebel performance pickups. There was also a sexy little Alfa Romeo 4C convertible to ogle and an array of elegance on display from Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.

Conversely, there were barely a handful of new electric or hybrid vehicles -- the second-generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt hybrid and Chevy Bolt electric vehicle concept,
 (go to article)

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Oil slips to $49 on huge U.S. stock build, firm dollar

Reuters -- Oil slipped to $49 a barrel on Wednesday after an industry report said U.S. crude stocks rose by the most in two decades last week, and as a firmer dollar added to pressure on prices.

The American Petroleum Institute said late on Tuesday that U.S. crude stocks jumped by a massive 12.7 million barrels last week, triple the volume expected, and including a 2 million barrel increase at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point of the U.S. oil contract. [API/S]

If confirmed by official data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration at 1530 GMT on Wednesday, the weekly rise would be the biggest since March 1994, according to EIA data, and follows a 10.1 million barrel build last week. [EIA/S]

"Crude oil stocks in the U.S. still appear to be growing incessantly," Commerzbank analyst Carsten  (go to article)

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Gas prices finally stop falling

CNN Money -- The steady four-month decline in gas prices which has saved motorists more than a dollar per gallon has ended, at least for the moment.

The average price of a gallon of regular gas edged up a fraction of a penny to take the national average to $2.04 from $2.03 on Tuesday, according to AAA. It marked the first increase in 123 days, the longest such streak on record. Wednesday, the average price stayed unchanged.  (go to article)

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Gas tax hike idea fuels Michigan resistance

Detroit News -- Washington — A proposal to raise the federal gas tax to fix and build America's roads and bridges is proving unpopular with members of Michigan's congressional delegation.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, and Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, have reintroduced legislation to raise the gas tax by 12 cents a gallon over two years, and then index it to inflation.

While Corker is open to other ideas, he and others have said they want a long-term fix to reverse the revenue slide in the federal highway trust fund.

But opponents in Michigan's congressional delegation sees a rise in the 18.4-cents-per-gallon tax for the failing highway trust fund as hitting middle-class and lower-income drivers too hard.

Even Gov. Rick Snyder, who unsuccessfully backed a hike in Michigan's gas tax but settled for a  (go to article)

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Houston man accused of lying about blowout preventer tests

Fuel Fix -- The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans says a 49-year-old Houston man is accused of lying about a blowout preventer test on an offshore oil and gas platform in 2012.

A bill of information charges Race Addington with two counts of making false statements to federal agencies about tests run Nov. 27, 2012, when he was well site supervisor.

The pressure chart recording the tests showed one required component wasn’t tested, and wasn’t signed or dated, according to the bill of information.

Addington allegedly had workers fake a test and showed that chart to federal inspectors on Nov. 29, 2012. He’s also accused of lying to investigators the following month.

If convicted on both counts, he could get up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

The bill of information does not identify  (go to article)

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Offshore drilling plan targets Atlantic and Arctic waters

Fuel Fix -- The Obama administration on Tuesday unveiled a plan to sell offshore drilling leases in Atlantic and Arctic waters that immediately alienated both the oil industry and environmentalists.

Oil industry leaders said the draft plan for selling drilling rights from 2017 to 2022 does not go far enough, because it excludes promising territory along the Northeast and off Florida’s east coast, while also locking up some Arctic waters previously open to development.

At the same time, environmentalists blasted the proposal, arguing that any drilling along the East Coast — even when limited to areas off just a handful of mid- and south-Atlantic states — could put the entire Eastern Seaboard at risk from oil spills.

Read more: Obama administration opens door to Atlantic drilling

The draft program,  (go to article)

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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.
 (go to article)

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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  (go to article)

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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...  (go to article)

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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...  (go to article)

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Ottawa faces deficit with low oil prices, budget watchdog says

Toronto Star -- Plunging oil prices will cost the federal government as much as $7.6B a year in lost revenue and could spell several more yrs of deficit budgets
In a report released Tue, the budget watchdog assessed the shock of dropping oil prices on the federal fiscal picture and said worst case, it would mean a deficit of $1.2B this year and a deficit of $400M in 2015-16, even after exhausting a $3B contingency fund
Officials with the parliamentary budget officer said that the government has enough wiggle room in its budget to show a surplus despite the oil price hit, allowing the Conservatives to keep their vow of a balanced budget
“There are many ways that the government can actually find some revenues or some savings on the spending side to make sure the balance is there  (go to article)

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He called $50 oil, now he says it’s going lower

MarketWatch -- Last November, when I was trying to figure out where oil prices were going, I spoke with Shawn Driscoll, manager of the T. Rowe Price New Era Fund PRNEX, +0.06% , a mutual fund that focuses on natural resource stocks.

Brent crude LCOH5, -1.33% was trading at $80 a barrel, and there was speculation that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would halt its slide by cutting production at its upcoming meeting, scheduled for Thanksgiving Day.
Driscoll was having none of it. Oil, gold, and other commodities, he told me, were in a secular bear market that could last another decade. He said oil would bottom out around $50 over the next 10 years.

Actually it took less than 10 weeks, as Brent traded under $48 a barrel on Monday. I usually don’t revisit columns or sources that quickly  (go to article)

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US ultra-low-sulfur diesel prices surge as blizzard boosts fuels demand

Bloomberg -- Diesel jumped to the highest in more than a week on concern that a blizzard from New York to Boston may increase fuel demand and disrupt deliveries.

Prices of ultra-low sulfur diesel, a proxy for heating oil, gained as much as 2.4% in New York. As much as 24 inches of snow may fall in New York, while Boston and eastern New England may see as much as 36 inches, the National Weather Service said.

“As the storm goes through the region, heating oil deliveries to the consumer are going to be shut down due to the road closures,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates, an energy consulting firm in Houston, Texas. “There will be additional demand for diesel fuel to run emergency generators. One of the concerns is that this storm can impact refinery operation.”

Diesel futures climbed  (go to article)

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Pump Prices Break 123-Day Losing Streak With a Half-Penny Rise

Bloomberg -- Just when the U.S. was pennies away from reaching $2 a gallon at the pump, prices rebounded.

Retail gasoline in the U.S. climbed 0.5 cent yesterday to average $2.038 a gallon, keeping Americans from filling up on $2 fuel for the first time since March 2009, data compiled by the motoring club AAA said. The rise breaks an unprecedented 123-day streak of consecutive declines.

A combination of stabilizing oil prices and refinery upsets curbing fuel production have put an end to the slide in gasoline that the U.S. government has estimated will save the average household $750 this year. Prices have dropped by more than $1 a gallon in four months.

“With seasonal refinery maintenance around the corner, it was just a matter of time that you saw gasoline prices go up,”a spokesman for AAA, said by  (go to article)

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US crude oil settles up $1.08, at $46.23 a barrel

Reuters -- WTI crude rose more than 3 percent on Tuesday as a weaker dollar propped up commodities priced in the currency, prompting short-covering in a market that has sold off with little pause over the past seven months.

Even so, gains in oil were capped by fears of another large build in U.S. crude stocks, traders said.
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Keystone Backers Predict Final U.S. Senate Passage by Weekend

Bloomberg -- The U.S. Senate is on track to pass legislation to approve TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL oil pipeline by the end of the week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

The Keystone legislation stalled in the Senate on Monday as Democrats raised objections about the number of amendments they’ve been allowed to offer.
 (go to article)

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