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Gasoline prices will get pumped up next week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Ethanol Mandate Does A Dishonor to Earth Day

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

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TransCanada seeks U.S. permit on Upland line as Keystone waits

Reuters -- TransCanada Corp , whose controversial Keystone XL pipeline project has waited more than six years for U.S. approvals, is asking the Obama administration to approve another pipeline, one that would take American crude oil into Canada.

The company, Canada's No. 2 pipeline operator, said it applied on Wednesday for a presidential permit for its planned Upland pipeline, which will carry as much as 220,000 barrels of oil per day 240 miles (386 kilometers) from Williston, North Dakota, to meet the proposed Energy East pipeline in southern Saskatchewan near the border with Manitoba.

The C$600 million ($493 million) Upland line, announced in February, will take crude from North Dakota's prolific Bakken field, where a shortage of pipeline space has forced producers to ship their crude by rail.

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Enbridge Energy seeks approval for replacement crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota

Minneapolis Star-Tribune -- Another proposed crude oil pipeline, along with another round of controversy, is coming to northern Minnesota.

Pipeline operator Enbridge Energy on Friday asked state regulators for approval to build a $2.1 billion, 337-mile-long pipeline to replace a 1960s-era Line 3 pipeline. It carries crude oil from Canada to the Midwest, but has a history of ruptures.

The Minnesota segment is part of a $7.5 billion project by the Calgary-based company to build a new 36-inch diameter line from Hardisty, Alberta, to Superior, Wis., where Enbridge has a terminal and connections to pipelines serving the Midwest, Gulf Coast and eastern Canada.

Like Enbridge’s other big Minnesota pipeline project — the proposed Sandpiper from North Dakota — the Line 3 replacement would pass through Clearbrook, Minn., sit  (go to article)

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Our climate models are WRONG: Global warming has slowed - and recent changes are down to ‘natural va

cnn.com -- Global warming hasn't happened as fast as expected, according to a new study based on 1,000 years of temperature records.
The research claims that natural variability in surface temperatures over the course of a decade can account for increases and dips in warming rates.
But it adds that these so-called 'climate wiggles' could also, in the future, cause our planet to warm up much faster than anticipated.
The study compared its results to the most severe emissions scenarios outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
'Based on our analysis, a middle-of-the-road warming scenario is more likely, at least for now,' said Patrick Brown, a doctoral student in climatology at Duke University. 'But this could change.'
The Duke-led study says that variability is caused by intera  (go to article)

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Harley recalls nearly 46,000 motorcycles

CNBC -- Harley-Davidson is recalling nearly 46,000 motorcycles in the U.S. because they could stay in gear due to clutches that won't fully disengage.

The recall covers certain Electra Glide, Ultra Limited, Police Electra Glide, Street Glide, Road Glide and Road King models from the 2014 and 2015 model years.  (go to article)

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Ford to Lay Off 700 Workers Due to Slow Car Sales

Associated Press (AP) Published in Product Design and Development -- Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it's laying off 700 workers at a Michigan assembly plant because of slow sales of the small cars and hybrids it makes.

The Michigan Assembly Plant, in the Detroit suburb of Wayne, will move from three shifts to two starting June 22, spokeswoman Kristina Adamski said. The plant, which makes the Ford Focus and C-Max hybrid, has been operating on three shifts since 2012.

The plant is the same one President Barack Obama visited in January to hail the resurgent U.S. auto industry. But even during that visit, the plant was temporarily shut down to prevent overproduction of the slow-selling cars. The plant also makes electric versions of the Focus and C-Max.  (go to article)

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Feds Move to Speed Approval for Wind Projects

Associated Press (AP) Published in Product Design and Development -- Federal officials are moving to speed up their review of wind power projects across the Upper Great Plains in anticipation that the industry will continue growing, a situation that's alarmed wildlife advocates who say many bird and bat species are being put at risk as wind turbines proliferate.

The proposal would cover future wind farms in Montana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Companies to date have installed roughly 8,000 turbines generating more than 12,000 megawatts of wind energy in the six states. That's almost one-fifth of the wind power in the U.S. and represents enough energy to power the equivalent of almost 3.3 million homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

With 8,600 to 30,000 additional turbines anticipated by 2030.......  (go to article)

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March U.S. Job Losses Widespread, Led by Slump in Energy

Bloomberg News -- Payrolls dropped in 31 U.S. states in March, led by a slump in energy producers such as Texas and Oklahoma. The unemployment rate fell in 23.

The plunge in fuel prices that began in the middle of 2014 has caused oil drillers and miners to cut workforces, prompting reductions among industries in the region. Rough winter weather at the start of the month could have led to job losses in other parts of the country.

Among the 18 states showing gains, California led the pack with a 39,800 increase in employment and Florida followed with a 30,600 advance.

Crude lost almost 60 percent of its value since late June, making some shale fields unprofitable to develop and forcing companies to cut back exploration prospects. Oil explorers were forced to shut down more than half the rigs drilling for  (go to article)

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U.S. Benchmark Oil Prices Fall First Time in Three Days

Bloomberg Business -- Oil fell for the first time in three days in New York, paring the longest run of weekly gains in more than a year.
West Texas Intermediate for June delivery slipped 80 cents to $56.94 a barrel at 9:28 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.58 to $57.74 on Thursday, the highest close since Dec. 12. Total volume was 16 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day.
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Trillions Will Depend On Whether Driverless Cars Require Human Drivers

Forbes -- Big auto players have made it clear that they intend to beat Google in the commercial development of driverless cars. The most vocal have been Nissan, Audi, Daimler, Volvo, Delphi and Tesla, though Ford and General Motors have their own efforts as well.

Trillions are at stake. In the U.S. alone, more than $2.5 trillion flows through car-related industries each year, including suppliers, automakers, dealers, financing, insurance, service, energy, etc. Worldwide, the stakes are more staggering. New vehicle sales in the U.S. in 2014 accounted for just 19% of global sales.

Into whose pockets these car-related trillions will flow in a driverless car future depends greatly on one question: whether or not driverless cars will require human drivers.  (go to article)

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Oil Set for 6th Weekly Gain as Airstrikes Shift Focus From Glut

Yahoo -- Oil headed for a sixth weekly advance as renewed speculation that Middle East shipments may be disrupted amid Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen shifted focus from the expanding U.S. glut.
Futures were little changed in New York and are up 3.2 percent this week. Raids by a coalition of mostly Sunni Muslim nations against Shiite rebels marked an escalation of the civil war in Yemen, a country near major oil fields and adjacent to key shipping routes. While U.S. crude stockpiles are at an 85-year high, data on Wednesday showed the nation’s output slid for a second week amid a drop in drilling activity.

Oil is rebounding from a six-year low in March amid speculation the slowdown in drilling and improved fuel demand will help drain a market’s oversupply. Vitol Group, the world’s biggest independen  (go to article)

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Saudi Arabia Has a Solution to the Global Oil Glut Problem

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

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

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

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U.S. Maps Pinpoint Earthquakes Linked to Quest for Oil and Gas

The New York Times -- The United States Geological Survey on Thursday released its first comprehensive assessment of the link between thousands of earthquakes and oil and gas operations, identifying and mapping 17 regions where quakes have occurred.

The report was the agency’s broadest statement yet on a danger that has grown along with the nation’s energy production.

By far the hardest-hit state, the report said, is Oklahoma, where earthquakes are hundreds of times more common than they were until a few years ago because of the disposal of wastewater left over from extracting fuels and from drilling wells by injecting water into the earth. But the report also mapped parts of eight other states, from Lake Erie to the Rocky Mountains, where that practice has caused quakes, and said most of them were at risk fo  (go to article)

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Oil prices trade near 2015 highs on Yemen worries

Reuters --

Brent crude looked set to finish the week near 2015 highs on Friday as air strikes in Yemen stoked concerns over the security of Middle East oil shipments.

A softer U.S. dollar and strong economic indicators in Europe and Asia also lent support to oil prices, which have surged by nearly $10 a barrel this month amid rising tension in the Middle East and slowing U.S. production growth.

Brent crude for June delivery was up 60 cents at $65.45 a barrel by 0944 GMT, having touched its highest since Dec. 10 at $65.69 earlier in the day. The benchmark settled up $2.12 on Thursday.

U.S. crude for June delivery fell 10 cents to $57.64 a barrel, after settling up $1.58. The front-month contract hit a 2015 high of $58.41 on Thursday and is on course for its sixth straight weekly gain.

The rise i  (go to article)

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2016 Chevy Malibu Hybrid estimated to reach 48 mpg in city driving

GasBuddy Blog -- The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, which uses technology from the Chevrolet Volt, will offer a General Motors-estimated 48 mpg city, 45 mpg highway – and 47 mpg combined, unsurpassed in the segment, GM President Dan Ammann said last week. Ammann made the announcement at an International Motoring Press Association breakfast before the 2016 Malibu was to be unveiled at the New York International Auto Show.“Fuel efficiency is important to our customers, especially in the midsize segment and with an estimated 48 mpg city rating, the Malibu Hybrid delivers,” Ammann said. ...  (go to article)

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Iowa officials move on ethanol

The Daily Iowan -- Much of Iowa’s congressional delegation says the Environmental Protection Agency is improperly placing binds on renewable-fuel companies and consumers. Members in the U.S. House and Senate have introduced acts that would strip “burdensome restrictions” placed on the ethanol sector.

Reps. Rod Blum and David Young, both R-Iowa, introduced the Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act of 2015 in the House on Wednesday. The act would also align the same tax rate between liquid natural gas and diesel fuels and further push companies to create new technological advancements.

“It is time for the EPA to stop denying American consumers access to new fuels in the marketplace,” Blum said in a prepared statement.  (go to article)

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Oil prices edge back from 2015-highs

REUTERS -- Oil prices on Friday edged back from 2015-highs reached the session before, but remain on course for weekly gains after renewed air strikes in Yemen stoked concerns on the security of Middle East oil shipments.

Crude prices have surged about $10 a barrel over the last month amid growing tension in the Middle East, with slowing U.S. production growth and signs of stronger global demand also providing support.

The spike in prices on Thursday came as warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition pounded Houthi militiamen and military bases with at least 20 air strikes throughout Yemen, residents said, despite Riyadh saying earlier it was winding down its campaign.

Brent crude for June delivery was down 31 cents at $64.54 a barrel by 0208 GMT, after settling $2.12 higher. The contract touched its...  (go to article)

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Oil company CEOs see continued low oil prices

The Oklahoman -- The price of oil has regained some ground over the past two weeks, but it is still far from clear where prices will be either in six months or in two years.

Some leading indicators support rising prices, including growing demand, slowing domestic production and the tumbling U.S. rig count. But not all indicators are bullish. Speaking at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston this week, several energy industry leaders expressed pessimism that the price will recover soon.

BP CEO Bob Dudley said prices could stay soft for several years.

“I do think the industry needs to prepare for lower for longer,” he said.

Siemans AG CEO Joe Kaeser, however, said technology improvements will allow the oil industry to be successful despite lower prices.

Efficiency is key

Before oil prices...  (go to article)

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Anti-Fracking activist ordered to pay $1k fine

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

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

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

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

Court adjourned around 5 p.m. Thursday. Scroggins was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine within 45 days for her violation of the restraining order. The decision on whether to put the permanent junction against her will be decided in the coming days.
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Oil at $65 Seen Freeing Half Million Barrels From Shale Fracklog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Scientists convinced of tie between earthquakes and drilling

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

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

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

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U.S. motorists start 2015 driving record miles

Reuters -- U.S. motorists made the most of low gasoline prices by driving record miles in the first two months of the year, aided by a national glut in oil supplies, according to new government data released on Thursday.

Drivers logged 221.2 billion miles on U.S. roads in February, a 2.8 percent increase over last year and the most in the month since 2008, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

It was the 12th consecutive month of year-on-year growth. Coupled with January's miles, the first two months of the year saw more driving than the same period of any other year since 1990, when records began.

"We had bad weather in December, January and February, and we still had growth," said Robert Sinclair, spokesman for AAA in New York. "We should continue to see that growth when the good weat  (go to article)

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As sales of small cars dip, Ford to lay off about 700 workers at Michigan plant

Reuters -- DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co said on Thursday it will lay off about 700 workers at a Detroit-area plant making compact and compact hybrid cars, responding to a dip in demand for such vehicles amid lower gasoline prices.

Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan is cutting a shift and will run on two shifts beginning June 22,  (go to article)

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Canada to impose new speed limit for dangerous goods trains

Reuters -- OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will immediately impose a new speed limit of 40 mph (65 kph) for dangerous goods trains moving through urban areas with more than 100,000 people, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said on Thursday.

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Sweep of Fla. gas stations finds 81 skimmers at pumps

NBC 2 -- Some people in Florida may have had their credit card information stolen at the pump - since a state agency identified 81 skimmers including three in Southwest Florida - during a sweep.

The sweep was announced by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It involved more than 6,000 gas stations and led to the discovery of "skimmers" in the 81 locations.

[CLICK HERE FOR A FULL LIST OF WHERE THE SKIMMERS WERE FOUND]

[CLICK HERE FOR AN INTERACTIVE MAP OF ALL LOCATIONS WHERE SKIMMERS WERE FOUND]

In Southwest Florida, skimmers were found at Estero Food and Market/Mobil on Commons Drive, Lucky Marathon on Tamiami Trail in Port Charlotte, and Zain of Colonial/Sunoco in Fort Myers.

The devices let someone illegally obtain credit card and debit card information.

Overall, t  (go to article)

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Solar Costing a Third of Retail Power Emerges in Germany

Bloomberg -- Germany’s cost of producing solar energy has shrunk to about a third of the price households pay for power after the nation made developers compete for subsidies.

Most bids to build large ground-mounted solar plants in the first solar auction came in at 9 euro cents (9.7 U.S. cents) to 10 euro cents a kilowatt-hour, Deputy Economy Minister Rainer Baake said. German retail consumers are paying on average 29.8 cents a kWh, according to Eurostat.

“The auctions were very well received,” Baake said at an energy conference Thursday in Berlin. The previous “feed-in tariffs were wonderful to introduce the technology. That era is over.” He didn’t say which bids were accepted, and there’s no guarantee all of them will result in projects.
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Beware the fracklog: Number of idle U.S. shale wells triples as drillers keep oil out of market

Bloomberg News -- Think the U.S. is awash in crude now? Thank the fracklog that it’s not worse.

Drillers in oil and gas fields from Texas to Pennsylvania have yet to turn on the spigots at 4,731 wells they’ve drilled, keeping 322Kbpd underground, a Bloomberg Intelligence analysis shows. That’s almost as much as OPEC member Libya has been pumping this year.

“Once service costs come down and drillers begin to work through their higher-than-normal backlog, the market should start to price in that supply coming online,” Andrew Cosgrove, an energy analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence in Princeton, New Jersey, said by phone. “It may act as a cap on prices.”

Futures for U.S. benchmark WTI oil tumbled by more than $50 in second half of last year amid a worldwide glut of crude. They settled at $56.16 on Wednesday  (go to article)

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Oil prices, safety concerns slow crude-by-rail trains

Calgary Herald -- After 5 years of rapid growth — punctuated by fiery crashes that stoked public safety fears across North America — the business of moving crude-by-rail is slowing down.

It goes well beyond trains loaded with oil adhering to new lower speed limits.

A 20-fold surge in the volume of crude moving by rail across the continent has been an unintended consequence of the shale oil boom since 2010, but first quarter results released this week by Canada’s two largest railways suggest growth in the sector may be running out of gas.

Similar to the oil industry overall, there is still upside forecast for oil-by-rail but it’s at a slower pace than forecast before a 5o per cent drop in the price of oil.

Canadian National Railway expects the number of carloads of oil and frack sand — a critical compone  (go to article)

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Low Gas Prices Prompt U.S. Motorists to Log Record Miles

Reuters -- U.S. motorists made the most of low gasoline prices by driving record miles in the first two months of the year, aided by a national glut in oil supplies, according to new government data released Thursday.

Drivers logged 221.2 billion miles on U.S. roads in February, a 2.8 percent increase over last year and the most in the month since 2008, according to the Federal Highway Administration.  (go to article)

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Strong Demand to Rebalance Oil Market by Early 2016

gCaptain/Reuters -- By John Kemp

LONDON, April 22 (Reuters) – Global oil demand is set to rise by 1 million or even 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2015, according to a range of forecasters.

Coupled with a fall in shale output in the second half of the year, as the decline in the U.S. rig count takes effect, that should be enough to bring the oil market near to balance by early 2016.

Worldwide consumption will increase by a little over 1 million bpd in 2015, according to forecasts published this month by both the International Energy Agency and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Ian Taylor, chief executive of Vitol, the world’s largest oil trader, has also predicted demand will grow by around 1 million bpd, at a conference hosted by the Financial Times.

Paul Reed, who heads oil...  (go to article)

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Oil jumps 3 percent, hits 2015 high on Yemen, supply concern

Yahoo -- Oil prices jumped 3 percent on Thursday to their highest levels of this year, after Saudi Arabia and its allies maintained a bombing blitz in Yemen that heightened concerns about the security of Middle East oil supplies.

Oil buyers also stoked the rally with bets that U.S. crude output will shrink further after two straight weeks of declines, traders and analysts said.
Warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition pounded Houthi militiamen and military bases in Yemen, residents said, two days after Riyadh announced it was ending the blitz.

"The Saudi escalation of its Yemen campaign is producing exactly the kind of geopolitical tensions oil is known to rally for," said Gene McGillian, senior analyst at Tradition Energy, an oil markets advisory in Stamford, Connecticut.

"You also have the assump  (go to article)

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U.S. Shale Fracklog Triples as Drillers Keep Oil From Market

Yahoo -- Think the U.S. is awash in crude now? Thank the fracklog that it’s not worse.
Drillers in oil and gas fields from Texas to Pennsylvania have yet to turn on the spigots at 4,731 wells they’ve drilled, keeping 322,000 barrels a day underground, a Bloomberg Intelligence analysis shows. That’s almost as much as OPEC member Libya has been pumping this year.

The number of wells waiting to be hydraulically fractured, known as the fracklog, has triple in the past year as companies delay work in order to avoid pumping more oil while prices are low. It’s kept crude off the market with storage tanks the fullest since 1930. The fracklog may slow a recovery as firms quickly finish wells at the first sign of higher prices.  (go to article)

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West Coast may see more pain due to new refinery issues, national average to jump

GasBuddy Blog -- California refineries are in the news again, and it's not good news for motorists in the West Coast. Yesterday, Chevron's Richmond, CA refinery reported it was flaring via Twitter, which almost immediately brought concerns that the market could face supply tightness, and sent wholesale gasoline prices soaring.

For that reason, motorists along the West Coast are well advised to prepare for fuel price increases that likely will send gasoline prices higher in the next few days. Already today, California's average gasoline price is up to $3.20/gal from $3.18/gal this morning, and things will get worse as wholesale prices appear to be moving higher again today after Tesoro indicated it was having minor issues at its Martinez refinery.

Over the next week or so, California's average gasoline price will likely rise 10-20c/gal, while Oregon and Washington see increases of closer to or under a dime a gallon. Motorists are advised to keep in mind that prices will l  (go to article)

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With Reliability And Security At Stake, Microgrids Are Going Mainstream

Forbes -- In what is becoming a harbinger of things to come, a regulated utility has created self-styled electric grid to service its remote campus outside Dallas. While Oncor Electric is still sending electrons to its 7.5 million customers throughout Texas using high-voltage transmission lines, it decided to construct its own “microgrid” to bolster reliability.

Centralized networks were designed a century ago as the most efficient way to generate and deliver electricity to the masses. While they will remain paramount to the distribution of electricity, the reality is that it is politically difficult to expand them. Even more significantly, businesses that cannot afford even a momentary disruption in power must look to new technologies that include distributed generation and microgrids.  (go to article)

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Earth Day 2015: Celebrate Cheap Abundant Oil Unleashed From The Earth By American Innovators

Forbes -- On Earth Day 2015 let’s take a brief walk back in time.

Just before Earth Day 2011 when oil was selling for $120 a barrel, former Saudi oil minister Sheikh Yamani put out the idea that oil prices could imminently reach $200 to $300 per barrel. He was referring to the implications of unrest in the Middle East in the wake of the then recent Tunisian riots, which kicked off the poorly named “Arab Spring.”

However, instead of rising, oil prices hovered around $115 for the rest of that year and then started to slide. The slide turned into a collapse over the past year, with oil dipping below $50 per barrel in recent months.

Prices didn’t go into free-fall because turmoil in the Middle East abated: if anything that has gotten worse. The price collapsed because the world is now oversupplied  (go to article)

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Pocan introduces anti-fracking bill on Earth Day

Wisconsin Gazette -- U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois marked Earth Day with the introduction of the Protect Our Public Lands Act. Pocan said the bill would ban fracking on public lands.

“Our national parks, forests and public lands are some of our most treasured places and need to be protected for future generations,” said Pocan, a Democrat from Madison. “It is clear fracking has a detrimental impact on the environment and there are serious safety concerns associated with these type of wells. Until we fully understand the effects, the only way to avoid these risks is to halt fracking entirely. We should not allow short-term economic gain to harm our public lands, damage our communities or endanger workers.”
 (go to article)

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Band-Aid approach to infrastructure can't continue, U.S. transportation chief says in Pittsburgh Re

Pittsburgh Tribune -- Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx discussed federal transportation plans at Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center.

Foxx outlined pressing needs, such as an $86 billion backlog in transit investment. He cited “some breakthroughs” with this session of Congress, which has a new Senate Republican majority, but said consensus on transportation remains an enigma.

“It's going to take bipartisan support, it's going to take working together, and that's been difficult over the last several years,” he said. “From a transportation standpoint, the jury's still out in many ways because a lot of our issues are coming up.”

Foxx said he thinks congressional action will come down to pressure from the public, which is fed up with spending money on vehicle repairs caused  (go to article)

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California blendstock differential spikes on Chevron's Richmond refinery flare

Platts -- The Los Angeles CARBOB cash differential spiked 12 cents and San Francisco blendstock rose 7 cents Wednesday morning, a day after Chevron's Richmond, California, refinery upset.

The Los Angeles CARBOB differential first traded at plus 34 cents/gal to the NYMEX June RBOB futures contract, a source said. The differential then traded at plus 35, 36 and 37 cents/gal to the NYMEX June RBOB, the source said.

The differential also traded at plus 40 cents/gal to the NYMEX June RBOB, another source said.

"The Chevron Richmond refinery issue is supporting the differential," the source said.

The spread between April and May CARBOB was flat, market sources said.

The refinery upset has also impacted the San Francisco gasoline market. The San Francisco CARBOB cash differential rose 7 cents from Pla  (go to article)

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CERAWeek: Oil chiefs explain why U.S. shale boom hasn’t gone global

Fuelfix -- HOUSTON – Has billionaire oil man Harold Hamm ever been tempted to take the U.S. shale revolution abroad and expand his oil empire from North Dakota to the rest of the world?

“I have not,” Hamm told a gathering of energy executives Tuesday.

The question had come from Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS. Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, one of the biggest oil producers in the Bakken Shale, was one of three oil-company chief executives speaking from the stage during a panel at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference at the Hilton Americas-Houston.  (go to article)

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EIA Chief Says No Hurry Needed for Lifting Crude Export Ban

Bloomberg via Downstream Today -- The U.S. can wait to lift the ban on crude exports because slowing production will give refiners time to handle the type of oil produced in shale plays, Energy Information Administration chief Adam Sieminski said.

While producers could earn more money selling oil overseas because of the spread between the global and U.S. benchmarks, it may not be necessary for the government to act now, he said in an interview Wednesday at Bloomberg’s Houston bureau.

“If there was a wall that light tight oil production is going to hit in refining capacity ability to process -- that’s one of the theories -- the pace that production was approaching that wall, the speed, has slowed down,” Sieminski said. “From that standpoint, it probably means it might not be as critical for a policy maker to decide immed  (go to article)

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I-45 would move, sink and shift from Pierce Elevated in TxDOT plan

Houston Chronicle -- A massive plan to add managed lanes along Interstate 45 and potentially to reconfigure downtown freeway access will debut publicly Thursday, years after state officials started discussions of what could be the largest freeway rebuilding project ever undertaken in the Houston area.

In documents posted Tuesday, planners outlined broadly the proposal to add two managed lanes to I-45 from the Sam Houston Tollway in northern Houston to U.S. 59 south of the city’s central business district. A public meeting to detail the proposal is scheduled Thursday.  (go to article)

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U.S. Shale Fracklog Triples as Drillers Keep Oil From Market

Bloomberg -- Think the U.S. is awash in crude now? Thank the fracklog that it’s not worse.

Drillers in oil and gas fields from Texas to Pennsylvania have yet to turn on the spigots at 4,731 wells they’ve drilled, keeping 322,000 barrels a day underground, a Bloomberg Intelligence analysis shows. That’s almost as much as OPEC member Libya has been pumping this year.

The number of wells waiting to be hydraulically fractured, known as the fracklog, has tripled in the past year as companies delay work in order to avoid pumping more oil while prices are low. It’s kept crude off the market with storage tanks the fullest since 1930. The fracklog may slow a recovery as firms quickly finish wells at the first sign of higher prices.

“Once service costs come down and drillers begin to work  (go to article)

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CERAWeek: Freeport CEO says U.S. is only in the “fourth inning” of natural gas development

Fuel Fix / Houston Chronicle -- The flood of natural gas unleashed by the shale boom is shaping the North American economy in wide-reaching and disparate ways, fueling a switch from coal-fired power plants to a cleaner-burning fossil fuel, triggering a rebirth of the petrochemical and manufacturing industries and bringing home jobs from overseas, a panel of top gas industry executives said Wednesday.  (go to article)

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Oil prices rise more than $1 on Middle East tension

Reuters -- Brent crude oil rose more than a dollar to above $64 a barrel on Thursday on heightened concerns over the security of Middle East supplies as a civil war escalated in Yemen.
Warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition struck targets in and around the Yemeni cities of Aden and Ibb despite indications from Riyadh that its campaign against the Iran-allied Houthi movement would be wound down.
 (go to article)

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Why is Minneapolis growing almost five times faster than Chicago? It's not the weather.

Metropolitan Planning Council -- Travel time to work in the Minneapolis region is 11 minutes less per day than Chicago, adding up to an extra hour a week of free time for Minneapolis workers. The city also has a widely successful congestion pricing strategy that—combined with bus rapid transit that tripled bus capacity on local interstates—speeds travel times and provides options for workers.  (go to article)

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‘Driving’ dog gives motorists a scare

NY Post -- Don the Sheepdog might want to learn a new trick: applying the brakes.

The border collie inspired a traffic scare and social media gold after he plunged down a hill and onto a highway in his master’s vehicle.

Wednesday’s incident near Abington, Scotland, began when farmer Tom Hamilton left Don sitting in his utility vehicle as he inspected lambs. He insists the parking brake was on.

Not strongly enough. The vehicle rolled through a fence, down a steep hill and across the M74 motorway, missing other vehicles and hitting a security barrier. Onlookers presumed the dog was driving, and that inspired an online joke-fest.  (go to article)

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Oklahoma goes from two 3.0 quakes a year to two a day

CNBC -- n November of 2011, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake ripped through the small Oklahoma town of Prague, damaging more than a dozen homes and toppling a turret on a St. Gregory's University building in nearby Shawnee.
In November of 2011, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake ripped through the small Oklahoma town of Prague, damaging more than a dozen homes and toppling a turret on a St. Gregory's University building in nearby Shawnee.

It was the worst of three large quakes to strike the area over several days, and it still as ranks as the worst Oklahoma has ever experienced.

Since then, hundreds more have rattled the state, racking up millions of dollars in damages and unleashing a political and financial maelstrom.

 (go to article)

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Volvo prepares to send 'Made in China' cars to US

CBS News -- CHENGDU, China (AP) — On the verge of exporting the first "Made in China" cars to the United States, Volvo is determined to show they are as good as vehicles it produces in Europe.

In contrast to its European factories that check a few completed cars from each batch, every vehicle that rolls off Volvo's 3-year-old assembly line in this city in China's southwest goes through a five-hour battery of tests on a driving track. Once a month, or three times as often as in Europe, Volvo tears apart a finished car in Chengdu to examine the quality of welds and other work.

The effort to persuade Americans to buy a premium car from China is a new step up in Volvo Car Corp.'s campaign to establish itself as a global luxury brand following its 2010 acquisition by Chinese automaker Geely.

"I have  (go to article)

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