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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.  (go to article)

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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...  (go to article)

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sand industry in region seemingly unaffected, for now, by falling fue

Pioneer Press -- The same falling gasoline prices that have consumers celebrating at the pump threaten to put a damper on the frac sand boom in west-central Wisconsin. As the worldwide price of oil plummets, analysts say it can't help but have an impact on the nation's burgeoning shale oil industry and, further down the supply chain, the Wisconsin sand that has become a key ingredient in America's recipe for domestic oil. "Spot market prices and demand for sand should decline substantially in 2015," said Ethan Bellamy, managing director and senior energy industry analyst for Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. "The longer oil prices remain low, the worse the pricing environment will be for sand suppliers." What nobody knows, however, is how long oil prices -- pushed lower by surging supply largely res  (go to article)

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Price plunge aside, oil people look to next opport

The New Star -- Although oil prices have plunged aplenty over the past six months, from more than $100 a barrel to less than $50, today's oil business problems are light years away from what they were in Lafayette in the 1980s.

"We lost 146,000 jobs in the 1980s," former LSU economist Loren Scott said of Louisiana's oil downturn during a five-year stretch in that decade. "Lafayette lost right at 20 percent of their jobs; Houma, 24, percent. It was a bloodbath."

Times were so grim, said Steve Maley, Badger Oil Corp.'s manager of operations, that Charley G's restaurant linked its "lunch special" ticket to the price of a barrel of oil that day.

"I remember getting the lunch for $8.50," Maley recalled with a laugh.

Charlie Goodson, partner in Charley G's, said times weren't only tough on oil people. He  (go to article)

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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  (go to article)

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U.K. Lawmakers Panel Calls For Moratorium on Shale Gas Fracking

WSJ -- LONDON—A panel of U.K. lawmakers is calling for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for shale gas even as companies are applying for permits to start exploration work in the fledgling sector.

The recommendation from the U.K. parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee in a report published Monday comes as parliament prepares to vote on the Infrastructure Bill, which contains a measure that would allow companies to drill and frack at depth without the landowners’ permission.  (go to article)

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'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  (go to article)

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Is $5 a Gallon Gas on Its Way? This Expert Thinks So

DailySignal -- You might want to consider filling up your tanks, America. One expert is warning $5 per gallon gas is on its way.

John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell Oil, warns that we should “[e]njoy the price, because it’s going to go back up.”

“The next round of high prices is likely to start later this year, as crude rebounds to the $80s and $90s, perhaps pushing to the $100 level by late in the year or early next,” Hofmeister told USA Today.

Prices per barrel as high as Hofmeister projects would mean a significant hike in the price you pay at the pump.

 (go to article)

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Gunvor: No Rebound to $100 Oil, Contango to Deepen

Reuters via Downstream Today -- Oil trader Gunvor's head of analysis said on Thursday crude was unlikely to return to $100 a barrel in the foreseeable future, but prices were expected to be volatile as traders sought to move oil into storage during the current glut.

David Fyfe, formerly research chief at the International Energy Agency, said OPEC would not want to see a return to triple digits as lower prices, which have more than halved to below $50 since June, were only now starting to slow output from outside the producer group.

"Why would they want that?" Fyfe asked an oil storage conference in Amsterdam of allowing oil to resettle above $100 per barrel. "They'd be back at square one."

Fyfe said the gap between spot prices and barrels for later delivery could widen further as traders look to finance the storage of  (go to article)

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Auto dealers sue Missouri over Tesla car sales

St Louis Post-Dispatch -- The Missouri Auto Dealers Association is suing the Missouri Department of Revenue and its director, Nia Ray, for allowing electric-car maker Tesla to sell vehicles directly to consumers.
In the lawsuit filed Thursday in Cole County Circuit Court, the Missouri Auto Dealers Association, or MADA, alleges the revenue department issued a dealers license to Tesla to sell vehicles in Missouri in violation of state law.

Tesla, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based maker of electric vehicles that was founded in 2003, does not sell its cars through traditional franchised dealerships. Rather, the company, led by billionaire CEO Elon Musk, sells vehicles from company-owned stores and over the Internet.

Tesla opened a $2 million service center in University City in June 2013 after it was issued a dealer licens  (go to article)

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The Return of 'Hot Fuel'

CSPnet.com -- KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After several years of litigation, a federal district court in Kansas City, Mo., has given preliminary approval to settlements with 28 defendants in a consumer class-action lawsuit concerning what has come to be called "hot fuel"--how gasoline and diesel motor fuel are sold at retail gas stations with regard to temperature.

The plaintiffs in the case before U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn H. Vratil said customers are shortchanged when buying gasoline that is over 60 degrees. Proponents of automatic temperature compensation (ATC) devices claim that consumers are getting less than a gallon of fuel for a full gallon price.  (go to article)

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Jack up the federal gas tax now

BostonGlobe -- YOU’RE NOT paying nearly enough for gasoline. Especially now.

The price of gasoline has plunged; the nationwide average recently fell to about $2 a gallon. On the upside, Americans get to spend their money on better things. The economy is improving. And if you’re into schadenfreude, you can revel in the woes befalling unsavory oil-rich regimes. But lower prices at the pump also encourage more reckless consumption of a vital but problematic fuel, one whose market price doesn’t take into account the pollution, congestion, or traffic accidents that it enables.  (go to article)

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Low gas prices - the good ... and bad for dealers

Automotive News -- A lot of auto people can't seem to make up their minds about whether low gasoline prices are in the long-term best interest of the car industry, given that they may not be in the best interest of the economy at large.

But none of those people are dealers, it seems. Just ask the dealers at the Moscone Center.

"It sure doesn't hurt," said Steve Germain, CEO of Germain Motor Co. in Columbus, Ohio. "For some people, it's an extra $200 in their pocket every month."

Jim O'Sullivan, head of Mazda North American Operations, brings up an interesting point. Everyone talks about the average sky-high age of vehicles on the road, which just doesn't seem to come down.

Why have people hung on to their cars for so long?

"Because they didn't put many miles on them when gas prices were high,"  (go to article)

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How Much is Your State Paying for a Gallon of Gas? This Cool Map Will Show You.

DailySignal -- While the national average for a gallon of gas is about $2.18, some states fare better or worse than others.

For example, drivers in Hawaii “consistently pay the most for gas.” They are currently paying an average of $3.31.

In addition to Hawaii, drivers in Alaska, California and the New England region pay among the highest average gas prices in the nation.

There is no one state that regularly pays the lowest price, but the researchers called Oklahoma, Utah and Missouri drivers “among the luckiest.”

Debt.com called the numbers an “average of averages,” determined using the average gas prices according to sources like GasBuddy, AAA and the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

They cited two other maps that help illustrate some the reasons behind your state’s price-the U.S. Energy In  (go to article)

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How our furry friends could be costing drivers billions per year

CNBC -- If you happen to meet Bambi one night while driving on a dark road, here's a suggestion: Hit her.

Animal rights activists and nature lovers will surely disagree. Yet a wide body of evidence suggests that motorists should actually hit animals that jump in front of their cars instead of trying to avoid them.

Why? Because by some estimates, swerving to avoid the loss of animal life is a very costly problem. While being responsible for the death of an animal is tough to carry on your conscience, some auto safety experts say its better than the alternatives  (go to article)

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Oregon becomes dumping ground for California's old, polluting diesel big rigs

The Oregonian/OregonLive -- About 350,000 trucks in California are being phased out because they fail to meet that state's stricter standards. Trucking companies have found willing buyers in Oregon and elsewhere where environmental standards are looser.  (go to article)

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A Psychological Speed Limit

New York Times -- ON average, vehicles seriously injure or kill someone in New York every two hours; last year, 173 pedestrians were killed. Last week Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a bill allowing New York City to enact a citywide default speed limit of 25 miles per hour as part of its “Vision Zero” campaign to reduce traffic deaths to nil.

As much political wrangling as the bill took, a sterner challenge to the new limit looms: Getting drivers to obey it. What, after all, is so dangerous about driving 5 or 10 m.p.h. above the new speed, a difference the driver may hardly register?  (go to article)

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Golden Gate Bridge barrier leads to rampant speeding, new rules

San Francisco Chronicle -- The California Highway Patrol announced Thursday that it is stepping up enforcement of speed limits on the Waldo Grade in Marin as well as at the bridge and toll plaza. The reason is that in the days since the more secure movable median barrier was installed, the average speed of drivers on the approach from the north has jumped even though the speed limit was lowered from 55 to 45 miles per hour.  (go to article)

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Saudi Arabia’s new king unlikely to change direction on oil production

The Globe and Mail -- "Olivier Jakob of Switzerland’s Petromatrix, one of the few energy research firms that called the price drop last summer, says the figures show it is Canadian crude that has emerged as the big threat to the Saudis in the United States. “Saudi Arabia, I think, is much more scared about Canadian oil coming down to the U.S. than about U.S. shale oil,” he said in an interview. “With the Seaway pipeline starting to bring heavy Canadian crude to the U.S. Gulf, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Venezuela will be under market share fear.”  (go to article)

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Obama administration to propose new wilderness protections in Arctic refuge

The Washington Post -- he Obama administration will propose setting aside the 1.4 million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness, according to individuals briefed on the plan, a move that will spark a fierce battle with the new Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman, Lisa Murkowski

The announcement, which could come as early as Sunday, is just the first in a series of decisions the Interior Department will make in the coming week that will affect the state’s oil and gas production. The department will also put part of the Arctic Ocean off limits to drilling as part of a five-year leasing plan it will issue this week and is considering whether to impose additional limits on oil and gas production in parts of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
 (go to article)

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With King Abdullah’s death, new realities may force Saudi Arabia to change oil policy

Financial Post -- Despite Saudi A’s best effort to portray an image of continuity, the world’s largest oil exporter is facing new challenges threatening its dominance in oil markets and influence in the Middle E
The G20 nation, which sources 85% of its export revenues from crude oil, is also locked in a battle for market share with other suppliers
But oil traders hoping that Saudi will radically alter its course under the new king may be disappointed in the short term
“King Salman, age 79, has emphasized that he will maintain continuity with the current policy of squeezing out high-cost production from the oil markets, particularly geopolitically disruptive shale, a key implication for markets
Despite the changes, Saudi A will maintain its iron grip on OPEC, despite questions about the group’s future after  (go to article)

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Mannequin on billboard spurs 911 calls about possible jumper

CBS News -- SPERRY, Iowa - A mannequin that had been placed atop a billboard in Des Moines County, Iowa prompted several calls to 911 from people who thought someone was going to take a leap.

The Hawk Eye reports that sheriff's deputies were first dispatched early Monday to check for a possible jumper along U.S. Highway 61 near Sperry. Sheriff Mike Johnstone says his deputies soon realized it was a mannequin sitting on the billboard, which says, "I can see Deery Brothers in West Burlington from here."

Johnstone eventually talked to the advertiser, Brad Deery, who owns Deery Brothers car dealership in West Burlington. Deery says he arranged to have the mannequin taken down after he talked to the sheriff on Thursday. Deery says he didn't want calls about the mannequin tying up 911 dispatchers.

 (go to article)

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Drop in crude oil prices threatens rail tank-car orders

St Louis Post Dispatch -- Add tank-car makers to the list of U.S. industries bracing for the effects from the plunge in crude prices.

While 2014’s record orders, including an all-time high of 42,900 in the third quarter, will drive deliveries this year, manufacturers from Carl Icahn’s American Railcar Industries to Warren Buffett’s Union Tank Car face a decline. New bookings in 2015 may plunge 70 percent, Macquarie Capital USA said, putting earnings at risk when scheduled deliveries drop in 2016.

Oil prices down 49 percent since June have crimped investment in U.S. fields including the Bakken range, where horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing is more expensive than conventional oil drilling. That has hurt industries from steel to heavy equipment. It also has slowed the boom in oil-by-rail shipping, ...  (go to article)

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Researchers strive to solve dangerous distracted driving by cops

Today -- On Nov. 23, 2007, Jessica Uhl, 18, and her sister Kelli Uhl, 13, were in heavy post-Thanksgiving Day traffic on Interstate 64 as they headed home to their mother, Kim Schlau, in Collinsville, Illinois, after a holiday photo session at their father's home in the Illinois town of Mascoutah.

Matt Mitchell, an Illinois state trooper, was also on Interstate 64, responding to a call while talking on his cellphone and using his police computer. He crossed the median and plowed into the sisters' car at an estimated speed of 126 mph, killing them both instantly. Mitchell pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and reckless driving, lost his license, and can never be an officer again.

"After we learned all of the facts, we knew that this crash was completely preventable," Schlau said.  (go to article)

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Fueled by oil, agriculture sector welcomes low diesel prices

Yahoo -- The recent plunge in fuel prices has been a welcome relief across the agricultural sector, helping ease the pain of low grain prices for growers and boosting profits for cattle ranchers.

"Every movement we make in farming takes fuel," Kansas cattle rancher and hay grower Randy Cree said.

Livestock producers in the Midwest and vegetable growers in the Sun Belt alike are reaping the immediate benefits. And with average retail gas prices for 2015 forecast to be about $1 lower than last year, farmers this spring may end up planting more energy-intensive crops, such as corn or rice, as the cost to irrigate and cultivate drops.

Consumers, however, shouldn't expect to see lower prices at the supermarket. Transportation costs constitute only a small slice of those prices, and it takes months,  (go to article)

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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  (go to article)

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Cheap oil means pain in North Dakota

Minneapolis Star-Tribune -- The state of North Dakota publishes a daily update on active oil drilling rigs. At last check, the number was down to 159, from 189 last year at this time and well off the May 2012 peak of 218.

The question is how low the count will fall this year. It’s clearly headed to fewer than 100. Closer to zero than 100?

That kind of pessimism might seem excessive, as industries just don’t get cut in half in a matter of months. But in talking with folks in the oil business last week, a 50 percent contraction in drilling activity is the view through rose-colored glasses. It’s perhaps more realistic to think it’s could be down 75 percent.

I didn’t reach any self-described pessimists. Perhaps they have already started looking for another line of work.

What’s happened in the global oil market is  (go to article)

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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.

 (go to article)

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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.  (go to article)

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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,”  (go to article)

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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  (go to article)

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Currency depreciation against the dollar affects oil importers and exporters differently

EIA -- Widely traded futures contracts for North Sea Brent crude oil in global financial markets are typically priced in U.S. dollars (USD). The appreciation, or increase in value, of USD against most other currencies since last summer can either mitigate or exacerbate the effects of the recent sharp decline in USD-denominated crude oil prices, depending on whether a particular country is a net importer or a net exporter of crude oil.
For example, the price of Brent crude since July 1, 2014, declined by 56% through January 21 in USD. However, given the depreciation of the Indian rupee and Turkish lira against the U.S. dollar over the same period, Brent crude prices in terms of those currencies fell by only 55% and 52%, respectively. Turkish and Indian consumers are therefore experiencing a lesser  (go to article)

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GM's Barra: No long term impact of low gas prices

CNBC -- General Motors isn't changing anything in the long term because of lower gas prices.

"It doesn't affect our long-term strategy because it's much broader—we're looking at fuel efficiency, electrification," GM CEO Mary Barra told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday.

"It's solving broader problems than just the cost of fuel: environmental congestion, et cetera, across the globe," she said in a "Squawk Box" interview.
Speaking on competition from Tesla Motors, Barra said making electric cars is a "pathway we were on." GM has been developing clean fuel vehicles for years, starting with the Volt in the early 2000s, she said.

Barra added that GM is working on a new model of the Volt to extend its electric driving range beyond 50 miles before the car switches over to gas.  (go to article)

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California considering plan to replace gas tax with charge per mile driven

MercuryNews -- More people are driving electric cars. Gasoline cars are getting better mileage. And California's vehicles are causing less pollution.

But all that good news is generating a major problem: As motorists buy less gasoline, state gas tax revenues that pay for roads have been falling for a decade, leading to more potholes and traffic jams.

Now, in a move that could solve the problem -- or cause a political pileup -- state officials have begun to seriously study a plan to replace California's gas tax with a fee for each mile motorists drive.

"We're going to have to find another way to finance the upkeep of the roads," Gov. Jerry Brown said earlier this month in rolling out his 2015 budget, noting that California has a $59 billion backlog of maintenance needs on state highways and bridges.  (go to article)

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Billions in oilpatch investment up in smoke as crude plunge reverberates across Canada

Financial Post -- The oil price collapse is highlighting the big shoes filled by the oil and gas sector in Canada’s economy
"The industry has been growing so much, is active in so many parts of the country, works with so many suppliers, low oil prices “are having more of a national effect now than at any time in its history
The result of excess world supplies and OPEC’s refusal to cut its own: Capital investment in W Can, including the oil sands, will decline 33%, to $46B, from $69B in 2014
In the AB-based oil sands alone, capital investment will shrink to $25B, from $33B in 2014
Capital spending in the conventional oil and gas portion of the W Can Sedimentary Basin which straddles SK, AB and BC will decrease to $21B, from $36B in 2014.Drilling is expected to decline by 30%, to 7,350 wells
Industry will res  (go to article)

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Union says U.S. refinery workers' contract talks moving slowly

Reuters -- With just a week of bargaining left until the national contract for U.S. refinery workers expires, the United Steelworkers union (USW) said talks with oil company representatives for a new agreement were going slow, according to a message sent to members via Twitter.

"It's time for the industry to get serious about addressing issues that matter to USW members," the message said. "Be ready to stand up and fight back!"
 (go to article)

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California considering plan to replace gas tax with charge per mile driven

Contra Costa Times -- More people are driving electric cars. Gasoline cars are getting better mileage. And California's vehicles are causing less pollution.

But all that good news is generating a major problem: As motorists buy less gasoline, state gas tax revenues that pay for roads have been falling for a decade, leading to more potholes and traffic jams.

Now, in a move that could solve the problem -- or cause a political pileup -- state officials have begun to seriously study a plan to replace California's gas tax with a fee for each mile motorists drive.

"We're going to have to find another way to finance the upkeep of the roads," Gov. Jerry Brown said earlier this month in rolling out his 2015 budget, noting that California has a $59 billion backlog of maintenance needs on state highway  (go to article)

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SLO Refinery Wants Oil by Train

Santa Barbara Independent -- A slow-moving pipeline moves a haul of crude oil to a refinery just north of the Santa Barbara County border. Stand on the nearby coast’s 18,000-year-old sand dunes and look away from the sea, and a perfect view emerges of the expansive Phillips 66 Santa Maria Refinery. The name is a misnomer. The San Luis Obispo facility on the Nipomo Mesa is 17 miles northwest from the City of Santa Maria. Directly south is the Santa Maria River.

With oil prices dropping and California supplies both dwindling and facing harsh competition from North Dakota, much speculation swirls on the question of what kind of oil will arrive to the refinery on the dunes in the coming years. Right now it is “mostly used for California-produced oil,” said Phillips 66 spokesperson Rich Johnson.

But as of 2013, Phillips  (go to article)

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Oil Rigs in U.S. at 2-Year Low as Bakken Drillers Bail

Bloomberg -- Rigs targeting U.S. oil slid to the fewest in two years as explorers retreated from North Dakota’s Bakken formation at the fastest pace since the nation’s shale boom took off.

The U.S. oil rig count dropped by 49 this week to 1,317, the lowest since Jan. 25, 2013, Baker Hughes Inc. said on its website Friday. The total count fell by 43 to 1,633. North Dakota, home of the Bakken play that doubled its crude output within two years, lost the most rigs since at least 2008 with prices under $50 a barrel.

Eight hundred rigs may be pulled out of U.S. fields during the first half of 2015, Penn West Petroleum Ltd. CEO David Roberts said at a conference Thursday.

“If you go down to operating cost levels in the $30-$40 West Texas Intermediate range, and stay there, you start to lose production in  (go to article)

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US works to ease Caribbean dependence on Venezuelan oil

Associated Press -- A decade-long addiction to oil subsidized by Venezuela may be coming to an end for several Caribbean nations, with a nudge from the United States.

Fears that falling oil prices could knock the wheels off the already wobbly economy of oil-dependent Venezuela have sparked apparent interest in alternatives to Petrocaribe, a trade program created by the late President Hugo Chavez that has kept the region dependent on the South American country for energy.
 (go to article)

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Commentary: Should we allow further drilling on public land?

FuelFix.com -- When done properly, extraction of natural resources from federal land has helped develop the economy while at the same time providing valuable income to defray the costs of running the federal government. Leases are certainly not new and, according to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), there are currently over 46,000 active leases on federal land.

The debate of drilling on public lands has incited divided discourse throughout the country. The Morning Consult, a media group focused on energy, conducted a poll with 1,811 registered voters in late 2014, found wide support for opening more land for drilling.

Over 61 percent of the respondents polled supported expanding oil exploration and production on more federal lands. The support also cut across partisan lines as supporters included 45  (go to article)

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Five years from now, you'll want to own these cars

CNBC -- Coming off a year when Subaru and Lexus both saw sales grow faster than the industry average in the U.S., the two Japanese brands are also selling models expected to retain more of their value than their competitors.

Kelley Blue Book calculated the average 2015 Subaru will retain 46.2 percent of its residual value five years from now.

Meanwhile the same report estimates 2015 Lexus models will retain an average of 42.2 percent of their value when they are five years old.
Both Subaru and Lexus have kept their values high in the past, and will likely continue to do so in the future by limiting the number of vehicles they build while also increasing consumer demand with high quality models," said Eric Ibara, Director of Residual Value at Kelley Blue Book.
Subaru jumps to the top of KBB's res  (go to article)

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Most Americans Are Spending Less Than $2 Per Gallon for Gas

Time -- The average household will save $750 on gas this year

The price of gas is plummeting like a bungee jumper without a rope.

A majority of Americans are paying less than $2 per gallon for gas for the first time since 2009, and the ever-cheapening fuel it helping put more money in consumers’ pockets and bolster the economy. About 6 in 10 U.S. gas stations are selling a gallon of gas for under $2, according to AAA. The average gas price has dropped for a record 120 consecutive days to less than $2.04 a gallon. That’s the cheapest average in nearly six years.
American consumers will benefit immensely this year from the drop: The Department of Energy predicted last week that the average American household would spend about $750 less for gasoline in 2015 compared with last year.

“It’s crazy,” M  (go to article)

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Oil rout 'not a three-month phenonemon: Caisse de dépôt's Sabia

Montreal Gazette -- The Bank of Canada’s rate cut this week shows the central bank doesn’t think the dramatic drop in crude prices will be short-lived, said manager, who runs the country’s 2nd-biggest pension fund
“There’s no reason to believe this is real short-term thing on energy prices
The BoC unexpectedly cut its main interest rate this week for the first time in 6 years, concerned that the plunge in oil prices will curb inflation and reduce economic growth within the G7’s biggest crude exporter. Canada’s economy has become more dependent on energy exports in recent years thanks to the development of AB’s oil sands, whose high production costs make them more vulnerable to price shocks than other regions
Few “big, bright lights on the economic horizon,” aside from the U.S. recovery, that would drive energ  (go to article)

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Saudi Prince Alwaleed: Oil Will Never See $100 Again

CNBC -- The world will never again see the price of oil at $100 per barrel, one of Saudi Arabia's biggest investors said on Friday.

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holdings, spoke with CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" following the death of his uncle, King Abdullah. While he admitted that his country — which derives 90 percent of its budget from oil — is feeling the pain of the commodity's collapse, he predicted that Saudi Arabia would not be the first to blink.


He said that a "confluence of events" have led to the fall in oil's price, not—as some have suggested — a Saudi plot to harm America's revitalized energy industry.

"I can assure you that Saudi Arabia is not using the oil price right now to impact the fracking industry in the United States,"  (go to article)

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Auto Collectigles That You Can Wear

NY Times -- Admirers of auto-theme lapel pins bearing logos and other images represent a small but fervent subset of the car-collecting world.
They document in miniature the auto world’s graphic design of classic chrome and kitsch.  (go to article)

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Liquefied natural gas plant gets first approval

FloridaToday -- TITUSVILLE – Florida East Coast Industries crossed its first permitting hurdle to building a liquefied natural gas production and distribution plant, despite some concerns from residents.

The Titusville Planning and Zoning Commission approved a conditional use permit for the $250 million liquefied natural gas plant on undeveloped land west of U.S. 1 and north of Kings Highway — a project the company says would be the first of its kind in Florida.

The four commission members present all voted in favor of approval.

The board’s recommendation now must go for consideration Tuesday before the Titusville City Council, which also looks at staff analysis of the site to make its decision on whether to approve the conditional use.

The approval Wednesday night came after more than 21/2 hours of d  (go to article)

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New Metro Vancouver riding shaping up as battle of the pipeline

Vancouver Sun -- The new Burnaby N-Seymour riding is likely to be ground zero of the battle over pipelines during the 2015 federal election campaign
The riding, divided by Burrard Inlet into a Conservative-friendly S and a more New Democrat-leaning S, includes both Burnaby Mountain, site of recent anti-pipeline civil disobedience, and the Westridge Marine Terminal
The terminal would load 34 tankers a month, up from the current 5, if KM’s $5.4B expansion of its Trans Mountain oil pipeline goes ahead
Scientist Lynne Quarmby, recently acclaimed as the Green party candidate, is so devoted to the issue she got herself arrested during the recent Burnaby Mountain protest against KM’s
Pipeline politics mean different things to different parties
•For the NDP, the pipeline issue represents a bit of a balancing act  (go to article)

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New spill into Yellowstone River prompts pipeline upgrade order

The Spokesman Review/Associated press -- BILLINGS – Federal regulators on Friday ordered a pipeline company to make major upgrades to a line that spilled almost 40,000 gallons of oil into Montana’s Yellowstone River and fouled a local water supply.

The order comes after Bridger Pipeline of Casper, Wyoming, announced plans to bury its line deeper beneath the Yellowstone to protect against future accidents.

The Department of Transportation order would make that improvement mandatory and require identical action where the line runs beneath the Poplar River in northeast Montana.

The cause of the Jan. 17 spill remains under investigation. It prompted a five-day shutdown of drinking water services for 6,000 people in the city of Glendive after oil got into a treatment plant.

 (go to article)

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Obama to shorten India trip to visit Saudi Arabia

USA Today -- President Barack Obama will cut short his three-day trip to India to travel to Saudi Arabia to pay respects following the death of King Abdullah, U.S. and Indian officials said Saturday, hours before the U.S. president was to depart for New Delhi.

White Housespokesman Josh Earnest said the president and first lady Michelle Obama would travel to Riyadh on Tuesday and meet with new Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud. Vice President Joe Bidenwas originally to lead a U.S. delegation to the kingdom, but Earnest said the White House changed plans after determining that Biden's trip coincided with Obama's departure from India. Biden will not join the president in Saudi Arabia and will instead remain in Washington.  (go to article)

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Cheap gas is not here to stay

Chicago Tribune -- By Megan McArdle

Raise that thermostat and fire up the SUV: West Texas Intermediate crude is hovering around $45 a barrel, and the Costco near my house is currently vending gasoline for under $2 a gallon. But don't start pricing Hummers just yet, because we don't know how long this will last.

No one knows exactly what factors are causing prices to fall so far, so fast, but there is a strong suspicion that Saudi Arabia, which you can think of as the central banker of OPEC, is letting prices fall in the hopes of killing off the competition from U.S. and Canadian shale oil. The question, then, is: Who will blink first?

At first blush, you might think that Middle Eastern oil producers have the upper hand. Their oil requires relatively little investment to get out of the ground; it's not  (go to article)

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