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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wisconsin man blames fried fish for 10th DUI arrest

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..wate.comThe saddest thing about this story is that when most media outlets reported it, they played with headlines and made a joke about it... "Beer-Battered Man Blames Beer-Battered Fish".

Yes, it's true that the Wisconsin man recently arrested there for DUI told the arresting officer he hadn't been drinking, oh no... that beer the officer smelled was from the beer-battered fish he ate for lunch.  So, naturally, the media couldn't resist.

But they missed the bigger picture... It was the 75-year old drunk driver's 10th DUI arrest in Wisconsin.  And three of those have occurred since his license was revoked.  Should this repeat offender be incarcerated?  And if not now, when? ...  (read more)

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Marathon Oil will cut more than $1B from 2015 budget Chronicle -- Marathon Oil Corp. will spend about 20 percent less looking for and producing oil next year, the company said Thursday.

The Houston-based exploration and production company said it expects to spend between $4.3 billion and $4.5 billion in 2014, down from a budget of about $5.7 billion in 2014.

The company said it would tailor its budget to favor high-return investments in the U.S. and pare back exploration spending. Marathon said it expects annual production growth to be in the high single digits in 2015.

Marathon also left open the possibility that its budget could shift before being finalized in February 2015.

“The continuing dynamic change in crude oil markets together with the expected impacts to oilfield service costs warrants additional time before finalizing the 2015 budget,”...  (read more)

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U Of M Study Finds Ethanol Worse For Air Quality Than Gasoline

CBS -- MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For years, the state’s corn and ethanol industries have touted the environmental benefits of burning the alternative fuel in our vehicles.

But newly released research from the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering is raising eyebrows.

The study compared pollution levels from gasoline fuel and 10 alternative energy vehicles, including hybrid electric, natural gas and corn-based ethanol.

One of the most surprising findings is that ethanol might actually be worse for air quality than conventional gasoline fueled transportation.

Researchers looked not only at the end result at the tailpipes but also took into account the full cycle of energy production.  (read more)

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Enbridge reports crude oil release from a Regina pipeline terminal

CBCNEWS -- The energy company Enbridge has reported a spill of an estimated 1,350 barrels of oil from its Line 4 pipeline at the
Regina Terminal in Saskatchewan.

In a news release issued Wednesday, Enbridge said they shut down a portion of the pipeline around 11:55 p.m. CST Tuesday.

The company said the oil spill occurred entirely within a pumping station and was contained on-site in designated catchment areas.

"There are no impacts to the public, wildlife or waterways," the company said. "Nearby residents and businesses may detect a faint odour."

Enbridge said a cleanup of the oil was expected to be completed Thursday, but there was no estimate for when Line 4 would be restarted.

The company said initial estimates put the volume of the release at approximately 1,350 barrels, although that...  (read more)

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You know who's not getting cheap gas? The US military

CNBC -- Yes, the price of oil is in a free fall, and a gallon of gas at the station is falling fast, even below two dollars in some parts of the country. But you know who's not getting cheap gas? The U.S. military.

It's paying 100 times the price the rest of us are. The total cost of getting fuel where it needs to be is skyrocketing the cost for military gas. At a burn rate of 300,000 barrels of oil per day, the Department of Defense consumes 1.5 percent of total national consumption, and is the largest user of energy in America. As a result, it is the biggest proponent of clean energy. Even a total cost of $100 per gallon would be a steal for the military. That's because its calculations on energy costs are very different than for a regular consumer.

The $400 price tag, as spoken by Gen. James  (read more)

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Do Americans still think gas prices are too high?

CBS News -- Despite a recent drop in the price of gas, 45 percent of Americans still think the price is too high - but that is far below the 92 percent who thought so in 2012. Forty-nine percent now think the price is about right, according to a new CBS News poll.

Sixty-three percent of Americans say lower gas prices have not had any effect on their financial situation, but for a third, the price drop has been beneficial. Majorities say they will use any savings from lower gas prices to pay bills or save; fewer will pay off credit cards, do home repairs, spend more on holiday gifts, or travel more.

Fifty-three percent of Americans don't think a president has much to do with the price of gas, and 58 percent think the Obama administration's policies contributed not much or not at all to the recent pri  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

'Pinhole' leak in U.P. gas pipeline raises fears

Detroit Free Press -- A pinhole leak in a controversial petroleum pipeline running through the Upper Peninsula released an undetermined amount of natural gas liquid that dispersed into the atmosphere north of Manistique, near the Indian River, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Tuesday.

A spokesman for Canadian oil transport giant Enbridge, which operates the Line 5 pipeline, however, said it was not a leak, but a "pinhole-sized defect, observed in the weld of the pipe," during a planned investigation of the pipeline Dec. 8.

Leak or defect, the incident heightened concerns among some people about a 61-year-old stretch of the pipeline that runs underwater through the Straits of Mackinac, and what a spill there could do to the Great Lakes.

Enbridge transports light crude oil, light synthetic...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Enbridge protester guilty in pipeline sit-in

BATTLE CREEK ENQUIRER -- A protester who sat in an Enbridge Inc. pipeline for a day in June 2013 could go to jail after his conviction Tuesday.

"If I was getting put away for 50 years it would be worth it to me," Christopher Wahmhoff, 36, of Kalamazoo said after a Calhoun County judge found him guilty of trespassing and resisting police.

Wahmhoff was charged after the Calhoun County Sheriff Department said he entered a pipeline being built by Enbridge near Division Drive and 16-Mile Road in Fredonia Township on June 24, 2013.

He said he was protesting construction of the new pipeline by the company responsible for a million-gallon spill of oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River near Marshall in 2010.

Wahmhoff spent about 10 hours inside the open pipe, telling deputies he wanted to stop construction...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Oil Trades Near 5-Year Low as Russia Matches OPEC Output Policy

Bloomberg News -- Oil in New York traded near a five-year low as Russia reiterated that it will keep crude production steady next year, echoing OPEC’s strategy to refrain from curbing supply to tackle a global surplus.

Futures fell as much as 2.4 percent after sliding below $54 a barrel yesterday for the first time since May 2009. Output from Russia, the world’s largest crude producer, will be similar to this year’s 10.6 million barrels a day, according to Energy Minister Alexander Novak. Iran is said to be offering shipments to Asia at the deepest discount in at least 14 years, taking a cue from Saudi Arabia in cutting price differentials.

Oil has slumped 44 percent this year as a surge in shale drilling lifted U.S. output to the fastest pace in three decades amid slowing world demand growth. Leading mem  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Ticking time bombs: Where oil's fall is dangerous


Lower oil prices are good for some countries, and bad for others.

But there are a handful of oil-dependent economies where things could get especially ugly.

Crude prices were lower Tuesday after OPEC repeated its refusal on Monday to cut oil output despite fears of a looming glut and a UAE official rebuffed calls for an emergency meeting to fix prices. The recent stance marks an about-face from the cartel's decades-old policy of tightening supplies in order to support prices.

Since peaking at just over $100 a barrel this summer, prices have fallen by more than 40 percent, including a slide last week that wiped out about $8, or more than 10 percent.

Oil consumers, from motorists at the gas pumps to energy-hungry economies such as those of China and the United States, are enjoying the  (read more)

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oil Storm Has Texas Wildcat Veterans Warning Bakken Rookies to Take Cover

Bloomberg -- Autry Stephens knows the look and feel of an oil boom going bust, and he’s starting to get ready.

The West Texas wildcatter, 76, has weathered four such cycles in his 52 years draining crude from the Permian basin, still the most prolific U.S. oilfield. Though the collapse in prices since June doesn’t yet have him in a panic, Stephens recognizes the signs of another downturn on the horizon.

And like many bust-hardened veterans in this region -- which has made and broken the fortunes of thousands -- he’s talking about it like a gathering storm. The ups and downs of oil are a way of life in Midland and Odessa, Texas, dating all the way back to the Great Depression. It’s as much a part of the culture as Gulf Coast hurricanes, and residents often prepare accordingly.

“We’re going to hunker  (read more)

Submitted Dec 16, 2014 By:

Brent Seen Falling to $50 in 2015 as OPEC Fails to Act

Bloomberg News -- Crude oil prices are poised to fall below half where they were six months ago, before producers begin dealing with a global glut.

Brent, the global benchmark, will slide to as low as $50 a barrel in 2015, according to the median in a Bloomberg survey of 17 analysts, down from the $115.71 a barrel high for the year on June 19. The grade has already collapsed 47 percent since then and needs to fall further before producers clear the current glut, said five out of six respondents who gave a reason.

Brent futures sank in the weeks after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries decided to maintain output even as the highest U.S. production in three decades swells a global surplus. The organization will stand by its decision even if prices fall to $40, United Arab Emirates Energy Mini  (read more)

Submitted Dec 16, 2014 By:

Automakers Hike New-Car Transaction Prices

GasBuddy Blog --
Image From ..philly.comThe analysts at Kelley Blue Book, the only vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry, today report the estimated average transaction price (ATP) for light vehicles in the United States was $33,754 in November 2014.  New-car prices have increased by $165 (up 1.7 percent) from November 2013, while rising $568 (0.5 percent) from last month. 
“Rising transaction prices are a reflection of stronger pricing in truck and utility segments,” said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book.  “Domestic automakers will be the main beneficiaries of this trend, as full-size pickup prices are up by an average of 4.3 percent, with the Big Three making up 94 percent of segment sales.” ...  (read more)

Submitted Dec 16, 2014 By:

Gas and oil officials increasing fines

The Durango Herald --
Denver-State gas and oil officials on Monday considered a proposal that would increase fines related to industry operational violations.
The rulemaking by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission comes after state legislation earlier this year that required a reassessment of fines and penalties.
The bill required the commission to eliminate the prior $10,000 penalty cap for a violation, and increase the daily penalty amount from $1,000 to $15,000 for each violation. The measure also required the commission to assess a penalty for each day that the violation occurred.
But the measure stopped short of requiring mandatory minimum penalties, a contentious aspect that could not make its way through the legislature.

The goal of the rulemaking is simply to deter violations and  (read more)

Submitted Dec 16, 2014 By:

Oil Falls as U.S. Producers Seen Standing Ground Amid OPEC Fight

Bloomberg -- Oil extended losses from a five-year low amid speculation that U.S. producers may further increase output as they battle OPEC for market share and as a Chinese manufacturing gauge missed estimates.

Futures dropped as much as 1.2 percent in New York, after closing yesterday at the lowest level since May 2009. U.S. crude drillers are benefiting as costs fall almost as quickly as prices, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Brent in London, the benchmark grade for more than half the world’s oil, may decline to $50 a barrel in 2015, a Bloomberg survey of analysts showed. A preliminary Purchasing Managers’ Index in China slid to a seven-month low in December.

Oil has slumped almost 45 percent this year as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries sought to defend market share...  (read more)

Submitted Dec 16, 2014 By:

Monday, December 15, 2014

National average drops... again

GasBuddy Blog -- Another week, another drop at the gas pump, according to GasBuddy data. In just the last week, prices nationally slid 12.5c/gal to an average of $2.533/gal today. Diesel prices weren't too far behind, falling almost 10c/gal to $3.398/gal.

As of this morning, the number of gas stations charging less than $2.50/gal outnumbered stations charging over $2.50/gal for the first time in years. Overall, 55.5% of gas stations are now charging less than $2.50/gal, with the most common price across the U.S. standing at $2.399/gal, when it stood at $3.199/gal a year ago.

The $1.99 club now includes some thirteen states, up from just three a week ago: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia. ...  (read more)

Submitted Dec 15, 2014 By:

New Jersey drivers are skeptical of raising gas tax

Camden NJ Courier Post -- Raising taxes to pay for road, bridge, and rail projects is the only way to solve a thorny transportation issue, some lawmakers say, and educating voters on why that’s necessary is a key part to finding a solution.

It’s just proving to be a hard sell.

That’s a political reality spelled out last week in a Quinnipiac University poll that showed 58% of residents oppose raising the gasoline tax while 39% support the idea.

..Despite such pitch jobs, New Jerseyans chafe at the notion of paying more at the pump. Some complain they’re already saddled with the highest property taxes in the nation while others said there is no wiggle room in their budgets.

“We don’t need it,” Jane Hemmes, of Hamilton Square, said of higher taxes for infrastructure. “I’m on a fixed income, and I cannot afford it.  (read more)

Submitted Dec 15, 2014 By:

NJ Moves Closer to Accepting Electronic Insurance Cards on Smartphones

GasBuddy Blog -- A bill proposed by Assemblyman Craig J. Coughlin, D-Middlesex, which would let motorists verify auto insurance coverage with their smartphone, took a step forward last week after the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee cleared it to go to the full assembly for a vote.While some insurance companies offer electronic insurance cards, only a paper insurance card is currently acceptable in New Jersey when a police officer or a judge asks a driver for proof of insurance.
New Jersey is one of 13 states that don't accept e-insurance cards, 37 states now allow drivers to present a smart phone ID card, said Micaela Isler, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America assistant vice president.  ...  (read more)

Submitted Dec 15, 2014 By:

The Drive: Minnesota uses blue lights to combat red light running

Star Tribune -- Traffic signals across the metro area are sporting a new hue.

Tiny blue lights are being added to semaphores to help police catch motorists who run red lights. When a traffic signal turns red, a blue light facing the opposite direction comes on. That allows an officer sitting downstream of the intersection to see that a driver ran the light.

Burnsville was one of the first metro-area cities to use the technology. It has since spread to other cities, including Crystal, Maplewood and Blaine. This fall, Ramsey County installed 120 of the blue lights at 49 intersections along thoroughfares identified as having a significant amount of red light running, said county transportation planner Joe Lux.

“Running red lights has become an epidemic in the last several years,” he said. “If you sit at a  (read more)

Submitted Dec 15, 2014 By:

The Saudi standoff: Oil-rich nation takes on world’s high-cost producers

The Globe and Mail -- In the high-stakes contest between the United States, the biggest shale oil producer, and Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil exporter, America has blinked first.

The OPEC refusal to cut production at its November meeting was widely seen as the declaration of a price war against booming U.S. shale oil producers, which had sent their country’s oil production soaring. Saudis had watched as their market share dropped precipitously in the world’s biggest oil-consuming nation, and they wanted to send a clear message across the global energy market that they weren’t about to back off.

Oil prices have been in freefall ever since. Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, sank another 3 per cent Friday to $61.85 (U.S.) a barrel, while West Texas intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, dropped 3.6 per cent...  (read more)

Submitted Dec 15, 2014 By:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tesla gigafactory: Elon Musk's vision may be game-changer for utilities

San Jose Mercury News -- Here's why something as basic as a battery both thrills and terrifies the U.S. utility industry.

At a sagebrush-strewn industrial park outside of Reno, Nevada, bulldozers are clearing dirt for Tesla Motors' battery factory, projected to be the world's largest.

Tesla's founder, Elon Musk, sees the $5 billion facility as a key step toward making electric cars more affordable, while ending reliance on oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At first blush, the push toward more electric cars looks to be positive for utilities struggling with stagnant sales from energy conservation and slow economic growth.

Yet Musk's so-called gigafactory may soon become an existential threat to the 100-year-old utility business model. The facility will also churn out stationary battery packs that can be  (read more)

Submitted Dec 14, 2014 By:

Here’s why U.S. states are mulling a tax on gas, as oil prices crater

Market Watch -- tate and federal taxes made up 20% or more of the cost of a gallon of gas in 10 states, as of Monday, based on data from the AAA and the American Petroleum Institute. That represents a rising share, given oil’s spectacular fall.

New York, California and Indiana lead with taxes making up 22% of the cost of a gallon in each state, based on Monday’s prices.

The cheaper gas has emboldened government officials to consider jacking up gas taxes.

The Federal excise tax, which hasn’t changed in nearly two decades, is 18.4 cents a gallon. Combined state excise and other taxes vary from a low of 12.4 cents a gallon in Alaska, to a high of 50.025 cents a gallon in New York, based on recent API data. The attached chart of U.S. gasoline taxes illustrates this.

Five states charge at least 40 cents a  (read more)

Submitted Dec 14, 2014 By:

OPEC chief says no target price, but oil slide beyond fundamentals

Reuters -- (Reuters) - The head of OPEC said on Sunday the group had no target price for oil, signaling no change to a policy to maintain production levels which has contributed to sharp falls in the price of crude, unnerving global markets.

Speaking at an event in Dubai, Abdullah al-Badri said the oil price, which dropped to a succession of five-year lows in recent days, had fallen further than market fundamentals should have dictated.

He urged Gulf states to continue investing in exploration and production, saying the United States would continue to rely on Middle East crude for many years.
The comments were Badri's first since OPEC, or the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, left its output levels unchanged at a meeting last month, when it also said it had no target price.  (read more)

Submitted Dec 14, 2014 By:

Blowout preventer rule gets White House vetting Chronicle -- Federal regulators are advancing rules to boost the reliability of blowout preventers, four years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster highlighted ”

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has forwarded its proposed rule on BOPs to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for an interagency review — often the final stage before planned mandates are unveiled.

The move, confirmed in a disclosure Friday, sets the stage for a proposal in spring.

The review is expected to include a close look at the cost of the proposal and its effectiveness. While OIRA is studying the proposal, lobbyists with oil companies, environmental groups and other stakeholders are expected to weigh in with their own views on the possible mandates.

 (read more)

Submitted Dec 14, 2014 By:

OPEC isn't scared of $40 oil

CNN -- OPEC won't rush to cut oil production even if prices fall as low as $40 per barrel, one of the cartel's members said Sunday.

The energy minister for the United Arab Emirates told Bloomberg at a Dubai conference that the middle eastern oil producers believe "the market will stabilize itself."

"We are not going to change our minds because the prices went to $60 or to $40," Suhail Al-Mazrouei said.

Even as it has watched prices dip, OPEC declined to cut back on production at its November meeting. Some observers had expected a production cut to boost the price of crude.

Oil prices have tumbled 40% this year and are now trading below $60 per barrel, a five-year low. Gas prices have come down, too -- the U.S. nationwide average was $2.60 on Sunday. In some parts of the country, gas is below  (read more)

Submitted Dec 14, 2014 By: