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Gas prices soar in California as supply shrinks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 (go to article)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Texas braces for massive layoffs amid oil slump

CBS News -- MIDLAND, Texas -- In Texas oil country, lower oil prices have led to prayers at the Jack County Courthouse for families who depend on oil drilling to make a living.

The state is home to the Permian Basin, the nation's leading oil-producing region, where cheaper oil means lower profits, and fewer jobs.

Alex Sexton was recently laid off from a drilling company's accounting department. "After a couple of days of wallowing in my own, you know, self-pity, I realized I'm not the only one and I'm not going to be the only one" said Sexton.

At a nearby employment center, the number of job-seekers has more than doubled in the last few weeks, says CEO Willie Taylor.

It's estimated Texas could lose 140,000 direct and indirect energy jobs by midyear. Just a few miles from Sexton's home, rigs have  (go to article)

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California Scientists Link Tiny Particles

LA Times --
A new study by California scientists has linked chronic exposure to microscopic air pollutants in vehicle exhaust to deaths from heart disease.  (go to article)

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Canadian crude proves perfect partner to U.S. shale

Reuters -- U.S. refineries are processing record quantities of heavy crude from Canada as the perfect complement to light oils from North Dakota and Texas as they struggle to keep their average blend steady.

Crudes vary enormously - from low-density oils with few impurities to much denser oils containing a relatively high percentage of sulfur and heavy metals such as nickel and vanadium.

Bakken and Eagle Ford are light, sweet oils, while Saudi Arabia’s Arab Heavy and Alberta’s Western Canadian Select are much heavier and sourer.

The density of crudes is normally expressed in terms of degrees API, which compares oil to the density of water at a standard temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Crude density ranges f  (go to article)

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Fracking fault lines forecast a future fight over gas

IthacaJournal -- KIRKWOOD – Without hesitation, Kirkwood resident Marchie Diffendorf can recall the exact date of the phone call: Dec. 7, 2007.

It was a landman with a natural-gas company: Would he be interested in leasing the natural-gas rights to his 60-acre property in the rural Broome County town he's lived in his whole life?

Around that same time, someone knocked on the door of Eileen Hamlin's blue-sided, one-story Kirkwood home — 2 ½ miles from Diffendorf's — with a similar offer. Take the deal today, the man said, because it will be gone tomorrow.

Seven years and 10 days later, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration announced a decision that shocked them both: A ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, the much-debated technique that promised to unlock the gas in the Marcellus Shale formation a mile  (go to article)

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Congress investigates gas pricing

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

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

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

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Oil train wrecks increase pressure for tougher safety rules

FuelFix.com -- WASHINGTON — Fiery wrecks of trains hauling crude oil have intensified pressure on the Obama administration to approve tougher standards for railroads and tank cars despite industry complaints that it could cost billions and slow freight deliveries.

On Feb. 5, the Transportation Department sent the White House draft rules that would require oil trains to use stronger tank cars and make other safety improvements.

Nine days later a 100-car train hauling crude oil and petroleum distillates derailed and caught fire in a remote part of Ontario, Canada. Less than 48 hours later, a 109-car oil train derailed and caught fire in West Virginia, leaking oil into a Kanawha River tributary and burning a house to its foundation. As the fire spread across 19 of the cars, a nearby resident said the expl  (go to article)

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Los Angeles, San Francisco Set Records, California Closes In...

GasBuddy Blog -- Californians are now seeing the most aggressive retail gasoline price hikes ever recorded.
In Los Angeles the average price of gas has risen 19.6 cents per gal. and that's the largest spike since Oct. 5, 2012 when the average rose by 19.5 cents.  In San Francisco the average price jumped today by more than 20 cents per gal., surpassing the previous record jump of 18.8 cents on Jan. 28, 2008. The statewide average has risen today by 16.5 cents and is exceeded only by the 17.7 cent increase also recorded on Oct. 5, 2012....  (go to article)

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Oil May Fall Again Says Analyst Who Predicted ’09 Rebound

Bloomberg Business -- (Bloomberg) -- Oil prices could drop again later this year as a supply glut persists, according to Jason Kenney, a Banco Santander SA analyst who accurately predicted a rebound in prices after the 2008 slump.

The current oil shock caused by the boom in U.S. shale production is reminiscent of the mid-1980s, when development of fields in the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico caused a supply glut, Kenney, the head of European oil and gas equity research at the Spanish bank, said by phone from Edinburgh Thursday. It differs from the 2008 collapse, which was caused by slumping demand in a recession, Kenney said.
 (go to article)

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Lower Gas a Prices A Boon To Cape Cod Residents, Businesses

Wicked Local Bourne -- With a dramatic drop in prices, Cape Codders feel like they died and went to gas pump heaven.  (go to article)

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Biodiesel gets a new state tax break

Iowa Public Radio -- The brand new state law that raises the tax on gasoline and diesel by 10 cents a gallon includes a first-ever tax break for soybean-based biodiesel, similar to the tax advantage for corn-based ethanol blends.  (go to article)

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15 cars, 2 semis gridlock US 75 in Texas

CNBC -- The Collin County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that 15 cars and 2 semis were involved in a traffic pile-up on U.S. Highway 75 southbound in Melissa, Texas, on Friday.

Cars were sliding off the highway due to sudden and heavy snowfall in North Texas causing several separate crashes, according to NBC 5. Initial reports suggested the more than 40 vehicles were involved.

Due to treacherous road conditions, officials in Fort Worth have closed Interstate 30 and Interstate 35W. Fort Worth Police told NBC 5 that as of 11:15 a.m. CT the department was responding to 75 different crashes.
The snowstorm began at 8 a.m. on Friday. No fatalities have been reported, although there were paramedics on the scene.  (go to article)

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Crude ends up 3.3%, at $49.76 a barrel; first monthly gain since June

CNBC --
Getty Images
Crude snapped a seven month losing streak on Friday, supported by an improving demand outlook and supply outages.
Front-month March New York ultra-low sulfur diesel futures surged more than 7 percent intraday as March ULSD and RBOB rallied ahead of Friday contract expirations.

U.S. April crude settled up $1.59, or 3.3 percent, at $49.76 a barrel. The contract posted a 3 percent gain for the month of February, it's first monthly gain since June.The U.S. crude contract's gains have been hemmed in by rising crude oil inventories in the United States, up 8.4 million barrels last week, according to government data.

Brent April crude was up $3.90 at $62.40 a barrel, on pace to post a 16 percent monthly gain, the first monthly rise since June.  (go to article)

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Investors ask oil companies to disclose refineries' risks from climate change

The Guardian -- Investors and nonprofits on Thursday asked the five largest US oil companies to disclose risks to their facilities from climate change.

In letters signed by Calvert Investments, Pax World Management, Walden Asset Management and other investors, as well as nonprofit advocates Ceres and the Union of Concerned Scientists, the groups express concern about “the lack of public disclosure of physical risks due to climate change”, such as from storms and flooding.

The letters are tied to a report, released by scientific advocacy group the Union of Concerned Scientists on Wednesday, that concluded that coastal refineries owned by each of the companies – Valero, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Marathon Petroleum and Phillips 66 – are in danger of potentially costly disruptions due to rising sea levels and s  (go to article)

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As Cushing fills, traders eye Houston to play the storage game

Reuters -- As rapidly rising oil stockpiles near the limits of storage tanks in Cushing, Oklahoma, traders are quickly turning their sights south to the U.S. Gulf Coast, where capacity is more plentiful but profits more elusive.

The Gulf Coast region boasts nearly 210 million barrels of capacity on oil tank farms, more than a half of the nation's total, according to U.S. data from September. There's another 75 million barrels in refinery sites, and analysts estimate a further 45 million connected to pipelines.

As of last week, only 214 million barrels were stockpiled on the Gulf Coast, just tiny bit below last May's record-high levels, data show.

With little sign of a global glut letting up soon, oil traders are scrambling to secure short- or medium-term leases to stockpile deeply discounted promp  (go to article)

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Forecasters say gas prices are set to soar

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Seattle Times -- As spring approaches, gasoline prices will rise.

Bet on it.

Fuel prices always rise this time of year. During 18 of the past 20 years, the retail price of gasoline in the United States has been higher in April than it was in January, U.S. Energy Information Administration figures show.

The national average price per gallon Thursday was $2.343, up from $2.033 a month ago, according to AAA. In AAA’s Seattle-Bellevue-Everett survey, the average was $2.643, up from $2.325 a month ago.

“It’s one of the more reliable seasonal tendencies in commodities,” said Jim Ritterbusch, who is president of Ritterbusch and Associates, an oil-market advisory firm in Chicago. He has followed energy markets for more than 30 years.

But this year, the gasoline market is a mess, according to the folks at gas  (go to article)

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OPEC's February oil supply hits lowest since June on Iraq-survey

Reuters -- Supply falls by 350,000 bpd, led by Iraq

* Saudi Arabia ups output slightly, other Gulf members steady

* Output 80,000 bpd below OPEC's 30 million bpd target

By Alex Lawler

LONDON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - OPEC's oil supply has fallen this month as bad weather delayed exports from Iraq's southern ports, a Reuters survey found on Friday, slowing an expansion of supplies in the group's second-largest producer.

The survey also found slightly higher output in Saudi Arabia, a sign that the largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is sticking to its strategy of focusing on market share rather than cutting output.

Still, actual OPEC supply has fallen in February to 29.92 million barrels per day (bpd) from a revised 30.27 million bpd in January, according to the su  (go to article)

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Less fun at the pump: Gas prices stop freefall

CNBC -- It looks like the steep slide in gasoline prices is over, at least for now.

The sharp drop in crude prices since last summer has brought down the prices of gasoline across the country, saving consumers billions of dollars when they fill up at the pump. Last month, gas prices fell to their lowest level in five years, to a national average of $2.03 a gallon, according to AAA.
 (go to article)

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Harold Hamm: Saudis view US oil as economic threat

CNBC -- Billionaire oilman Harold Hamm told CNBC on Friday that OPEC has been trying for decades through price wars to crush U.S. crude production. "Sometimes they're successful. This time we hope they're not," he said.

The American shale oil boom is viewed by Saudi Arabia as an economic threat, the founder and chief of Continental Resources said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "I think the Saudis have made up their mind they're not going to bear the brunt of a cut, so they force everybody else to do it."
 (go to article)

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Union, Shell discuss meeting on US refinery strike - sources

Yahoo -- HOUSTON (Reuters) - The United Steelworkers union (USW) and representatives for several U.S. refineries discussed on Thursday a possible resumption of face-to-face negotiations to settle a 26-day strike, two people familiar with the discussions told Reuters.No talks expected this week in U.S. refinery strike - sources Reuters
U.S. refinery strike affects one-fifth of national capacity Reuters
Shell says labour talks not broken off, contrary to media report Reuters
Shell says no agreement in U.S. refinery strike talks Reuters
U.S. refinery strike widening to include largest refinery Reuters
No date had been set as of Thursday for resuming direct meetings with Shell Oil Co, which is representing the refiners, the sources said.

About 6,550 USW members were on strike at 15 plants, includin  (go to article)

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There’s more to oil’s plunge than record-high supplies

Market Watch -- Some blamed crude-oil’s decline Thursday on the record-high supplies in the U.S. But there is a little more to it than that.

True, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported on Wednesday a seventh straight weekly climb in crude inventories to their “highest level for this time of year in at least the last 80 years.”

But prices for crude that day on the New York Mercantile Exchange actually rallied by 3.5%, with analysts considering whether prices have bottomed and fretting over the declines in petroleum-product stockpiles.

On Thursday, April crude CLJ5, +2.01% on Nymex lost 5.5% to settle at $48.17 a barrel, its lowest settlement in nearly a month.

So why did prices fall?

The short answer is the dollar. The ICE U.S. dollar index DXY, +0.09% rallied to its highest level sin  (go to article)

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Saudis’ Oil Price War Is Paying Off

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

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

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

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U.S. Oil Discount Poised for Record Widening as Supplies Surge

Bloomberg -- Bloomberg) -- U.S. crude’s discount to European prices headed for a record widening in dollar terms this month as prices at $50 a barrel failed to slow the nation’s fastest oil output in more than three decades.

West Texas Intermediate traded for $12.32 a barrel less than the North Sea benchmark, Brent, as supplies expand at the U.S. storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma. The spread expanded by $7.57 a barrel this month. U.S. crude inventories grew to the highest level in weekly data that started August 1982, according to the Energy Information Administration. Brent headed for its biggest monthly gain since 2009.

“Rising Cushing stocks, which are approaching tank tops, are driving the spread,” Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at consultants Energy Aspects Ltd. in London, said by e-mail.  (go to article)

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Why oil prices move up and down so much

Marketplace -- On Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that oil inventories are at historic highs — we’re running out of places to put the stuff. So, why, did oil prices… rise? And then, why did they fall again the next day?

A lot of factors can move the price of oil day to day, and they may or may not have anything to do with where the market is heading long term.

For instance, traders were not surprised when U.S. crude inventories hit a new high. And that is why prices went up, says Walter Zimmerman, chief technical analyst for United-ICAP.

"There’s an old proverb," Zimmerman says. "What everybody knows, is already in the price."

In other words, Wednesday's opening price of oil already included a discount for the over-supply that everybody expected to see.  (go to article)

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US finds more oil storage beyond refineries, tanks

Bloomberg -- It looks like there’s more space to store oil in the US than previously thought.

The Energy Information Administration pegged crude storage capacity at refineries and tank farms in the US at 521 million bbl at the end of September. With inventories rising 8.4 million bbl last week to a record 434 million, it may appear at first glance like supplies from the shale boom are on a collision course with tank tops.

Not so, says the EIA. The weekly storage numbers include a few sources that aren’t included in the capacity report, such as crude in pipelines and at well sites, that can add up to more than 100 million bbl.

“We still have a way to go before we can consider ourselves to be full,” Rob Merriam, the EIA’s manager of petroleum supply statistics in Washington, said by phone. “Once you c  (go to article)

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US refiners may seek Jones Act waiver amid strike, Torrance explosion

Platts -- An ongoing labor strike and an explosion at a major California facility may compel West Coast refiners to seek a Jones Act waiver from the Obama administration, arguing that the region could soon face gasoline shortages, sources said this week.

While the application process is confidential, government sources said that no company has formally applied for a Jones Act waiver. But market and legal sources said ExxonMobil is considering such a request amid climbing prices and supply shortages.

The Jones Act has made it "virtually impossible" and "excessively costly" to move oil to and from the West Coast, a Center for Strategic and International Studies report published Thursday said.

One refining industry lobbyist said there is already a shortage of US-flagged vessels, a situation that cou  (go to article)

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Jeep SUV has best resale value of any vehicle in Canada

The Globe & Mail -- Note to readers: More of a Canadian interest article

The Jeep Wrangler claimed top honours for best resale value in Canada by percentage, as announced Wednesday by Canadian Black Book (CBB), the country’s largest publisher of wholesale used-vehicle prices.  (go to article)

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Lawmakers push to repeal part of ethanol mandate

Des Moines Register -- A bipartisan bill in the Senate would repeal a key part of the country's ethanol mandate requiring that a specific amount of the fuel be made from corn.

The bill, introduced Thursday by Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is the latest attempt to overhaul the Renewable Fuel Standard -- a law that requires refiners to buy alternative fuels made from corn, soybeans and other products to reduce the country's dependence on foreign energy. A similar measure to strip out corn was proposed earlier this year as part of the Keystone XL pipeline debate but it never came up for a vote.

Critics of the mandate, including the American Petroleum Institute, argue lawmakers were too aggressive in setting the blending levels in 2007.  (go to article)

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Is a plug-in hybrid really the best of both driving worlds?

The Globe & Mail -- When you’re a busy working mom, sometimes things fall through the cracks. A school form goes unsigned. A phone gets left behind. A few weeks ago, I even drove to work without the plug for the electric car I was testing.  (go to article)

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

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

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State Lawmakers Set To Discuss Recent Rise In Gas Prices

KCBS-2/KCAL-9 News -- If you’re curious why gas prices keep going up, you’re not alone.
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CBS-2? has learned that state lawmakers plan to take a closer look at price hikes and refinery safety during two hearings scheduled for next month.  (go to article)

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Ohio oil well output doubles in a year; natural gas triples

ohio.com(AP) -- Oil production has more than doubled and production of natural gas has tripled in Ohio in one year, bolstering arguments by the administration of Gov. John Kasich that the industry is thriving enough to sustain a tax increase.

Statistics released Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources showed more than 3.5 million barrels of oil and 164 billion cubic feet of natural gas were produced during the last three months of 2014. During the same quarter in 2013, Ohio wells produced 1.4 million barrels of oil and 43 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

The increase was fueled by a building boom of wells.
During this week’s State of the State address, the Republican governor dismissed claims by the oil-and-gas industry that they’d be devastated by his proposed tax increase.

“The pros

 (go to article)

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North Dakota House endorses change to oil and gas production tax distribution formula

therepublic.com(AP) -- The North Dakota House voted Thursday to revamp a formula used to distribute oil and gas production tax revenue, a move aimed at giving more funding to communities to help pay for the consequences of oil development.

In its final action before the Legislature's mid-session break, the House voted 70-18 to amend the formula that would give more funding to counties, cities, schools and townships in and around western North Dakota's oil patch.

The legislation is less than what has been proposed Gov. Jack Dalrymple and sought by leaders in the region. The bill, expected to be the most debated of the session, now heads to the Senate. Its final version will be decided by a conference committee of three House members and three senators, with the negotiated legislation subject to more House and

 (go to article)

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The Natural Gas Myth

Forbes -- There’s a pernicious argument being made against energy efficiency, and it goes like this. Last winter was one of the warmest on record, so people had to spend less to heat their homes and businesses. That, combined with a “drilling binge ” in shale gas and new production, made for record low natural gas in prices in April, at less than $2 per million British thermal units (MMBtu). This phenomenon has boosted the U.S. economy to the tune of more than $100 billion annually, by one estimate. With such low prices, the thinking goes, investments in alternative energy and energy efficiency don’t make sense.  (go to article)

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Natural gas futures fall despite frigid temperatures

FuelFix -- HOUSTON — Not even powerful cold could save natural gas prices.

Traders sent the price down on the fuel’s benchmark futures contract on bearish inventory data, despite chilling temperatures and a winter front that has blanketed much of the country in snow. The next-month futures contract for Henry Hub natural gas fell by 13 cents, or about 4.6 percent, to $2.731 per million British thermal unit in early trading Thursday.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s weekly report on natural gas inventories showed a higher-than-normal withdraw of natural gas for the week ending Feb. 20, but even that strong draw didn’t measure up to analysts’ expectations.  (go to article)

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Leak at BP refinery in Whiting 2nd malfunction this week

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

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

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

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

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

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Gas prices volatile, but not due to strike

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

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

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

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

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Ford’s F-150 Helps Rescue Aluminum From Commodities’ Bear

Bloomberg -- Ford Motor Co. is helping to pull aluminum from the bear markets afflicting most commodities by adding to an increase in industrial use.

The company is hiring workers to expand production of its F-150 pickup after a switch to an aluminum body helped spur demand that has exceeded the company’s plans. As auto use increases, U.S. consumption of the metal will rise about 7 percent in 2015 from 2014 to 5.38 million tons, the highest since 2006, according to Morgan Stanley.

Even as the Bloomberg Commodity Index trades near a 12-year low, aluminum prices are up almost 2 percent in the past 12 months, the biggest gain behind cattle. Ford’s move to go with the lightweight metal that helps to improve fuel mileage is a “line in the sand” for carmakers, Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at AutoTrader  (go to article)

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Carmakers Find That Turbos Are a Powerful Path to Fuel Efficiency

The New York Times -- EVEN as electric cars stall with Americans, another fuel-saving technology is revolutionizing the morning commute: the turbocharger.

Once mostly the province of expensive sports and luxury cars, turbochargers are proliferating in everything from budget compacts to burly pickup trucks. As automakers scramble to lift their average fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 — the target set by the Environmental Protection Agency — turbochargers have become a key to unlocking higher mileage without sacrificing the performance consumers demand.

In the process, analysts say, their efficiency has had the unintended effect of helping slow the broader adoption of alternative-fuel vehicles.

How does it work? A turbocharger essentially reuses hot exhaust gases — energy that would otherwise...  (go to article)

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Tracks back open after Fayette train disaster

Charleston Gazette - MOUNT CARBON, W.Va. -- The railway is back open and the state of emergency is over 11 days after a CSX oil train derailed and exploded in Fayette Cty
“Rail operations have resumed with caution as workers continue cleanup activities at the site
Gov.Tomblin also he lifted the state of emergency for Fayette and Kanawha Cties
The response team installed a 500-ft retaining wall between the railway and the Kanawha R to keep pollutants from getting into the river. Crews built an access road from the work area to WV 61
Crews will now begin removing contaminated soil from the site
97,000 gal of an oil-water mixture will be taken to an oil recycling facility in SW PA. 172,000 gal of crude oil have been recovered from the crippled rail cars
Air monitoring in the Mt Carbon has stopped, as 40,000 air samples showed no impact  (go to article)

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Gasoline begins annual price rise despite cheaper crude

Houston Chronicle -- Houston motorists are paying more than $2 per gallon for gasoline again, as seasonal factors begin counteracting lower crude prices that have brought joy at the pump and grief to the oil capital's chief industry.

The average price for regular in Houston on Tuesday was $2.11, up from $1.83 just a month ago, according to data from AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Nationally, the price of gasoline has advanced for 29 consecutive days to an average of $2.31.

Gasoline was more than a dollar higher this time last year, though, and the money saved has padded consumers' wallets even while oil companies spend less and lay off employees.

Gasoline prices typically rise as warmer weather approaches because refineries shut down for scheduled maintenance, reducing supplies on the market. Refineries als  (go to article)

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Buy a new car? Are you crazy?

USA Today -- People shopping for new cars should stop, right now, and think about it, Consumer Reports says, though it does not say so quite as bluntly.

"Buying a new car might be a lousy financial move," warns the widely consulted publication, which posted its comprehensive annual auto report online Tuesday and mails its April auto issue print magazine to subscribers next week. The April issue hits newsstands March 5.

The overriding reason: You're about to spend a lot more than you think and more than you probably need to.  (go to article)

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Lower gasoline prices dampen U.S. consumer inflation

Reuters -- U.S. consumer prices fell over the past year for the first time since 2009 as gasoline prices continued to tumble, which could allow a cautious Federal Reserve more room to hold off on raising interest rates.

Other data on Thursday showed a rebound in business investment spending plans and a steadily firming labor market, suggesting the move into deflation territory would be brief. In addition, gasoline prices have been rising in recent weeks.

"We believe the Fed will wait until September before achieving liftoff on interest rates and, even then, the process of normalization will move at a glacial pace," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago.

The Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index fell 0.1 percent in the 12 months through January, the first declin  (go to article)

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Global equities fall as oil sinks...

Reuters -- Global equities dipped on Thursday as investor enthusiasm was dampened by a pullback in oil prices related to rising inventories, while the dollar rose as economic data drove expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.

The U.S. S&P 500 ended down, led by an 1.8 percent drop in energy shares. Brent crude settled down 2.6 percent and U.S. crude fell 5.5 percent.

The Nasdaq was a bright spot in U.S. equities, rising on news of a technology deal as it drew closer to its lifetime peak, hit in 2000.

U.S. consumer prices fell in the 12 months through January, the first such decline since 2009 as gasoline prices continued to tumble, but core prices, which exclude volatile items such as food and gasoline, rose more than expected.  (go to article)

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Toyota Camry Hybrid Battery: Electrician Spent $10, Not $4,000, To Fix

Yahoo Autos -- Who said modern cars are too complicated to work on at home?

Some hybrid cars have been on the road for more than a decade now, but every vehicle needs some kind of maintenance eventually.

Faced with a potentially expensive bill, one Toyota Camry Hybrid owner took matters into his own hands, fixing the car's battery pack himself.

The repair cost about $10, but would have cost $4,400 if done by a dealer, the owner, Imgur user scoodidabop explained in a post.

The owner worked as an electrician with his father, so when his Toyota dealer said the entire pack would have to be replaced, he decided to try repairing it instead.

The hybrid battery pack contain 34 copper connectors that link its nickel-metal-hydride cells together, and they were all corroded. The cells were actually fine, but t  (go to article)

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U.S. Tells Canada Its Climate Goal May Affect Keystone Decision

Bloomberg -- - U.S. climate negotiators have told their Canadian counterparts that Canada’s plan to cut carbon emissions could be one of the factors that President Barack Obama weighs as he considers whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, a U.S. official said.
The U.S. hasn’t suggested it might approve the $8 billion proposed project in exchange for climate commitments, the official said. Canada is developing a proposal as part of United Nations-sponsored talks aimed at cutting carbon emissions that governments were encouraged to submit by next month.
The notion that there’s any linkage between Canada’s UN goals and the president’s decision on the pipeline is patently false, said another U.S official familiar with the issue. There is a longstanding process for determining these projects, and the  (go to article)

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US crude settles down 5.5%, at $48.17 a barrel

CNBC --
Ample global supply and increasing U.S. commercial inventories weighed on U.S. crude prices on Thursday after expectations for better demand going forward lifted prices a day earlier, traders and analysts said.
U.S. crude settled 5.5 percent lower, or $2.82, at $48.17 a barrel, following a more than 3 percent gain in the previous session.

Brent losses were tempered by expectations for improving global demand and geopolitical concerns about energy supplies from Libya and Russia.

Benchmark Brent crude fell $1.60 to $60 a barrel, after hitting a session peak of $62.63. On Wednesday, Brent surged 5 percent.

Earlier, Brent's premium to U.S. crude increased to $12.06 intraday on Thursday, the widest since January 2014.  (go to article)

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MDOT plans 'dynamic shoulders' as part of $76 million U.S. 23 overhaul

MLive -- The Michigan Department of Transportation is seeking public comment on a plan developed to help relieve rush hour traffic on U.S. 23 north of Ann Arbor.

The $76 million project will include the implementation of an active traffic management system that will use "dynamic shoulders" to open additional lanes of traffic. The plan also calls for the replacement of four bridges that do not meet state standards and general maintenance on more than 10 miles of highway from the U.S. 23 and M-14 interchange to Silver Lake Road north of Whitmore Lake.

The biggest change for motorists will be the traffic management system that will open the interior shoulders of the road to help relieve rush-hour traffic. During peak morning hours, the left shoulder of southbound U.S. 23 will be opened to vehicles  (go to article)

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