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Thursday, March 05, 2015

LyondellBasell accuses Steelworkers of threatening returning workers

FuelFix -- LyondellBasell announced Tuesday that it has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the United Steelworkers union, alleging that union representatives have made threats against employees who have returned to work and have used abusive language in social media.

The company also contends it has witnessed threatening behavior at the gates of its Houston refinery as employees arrive to work, according to a letter to employees from Kevin Brown, executive vice president of global manufacturing, refining, global engineering services and global projects. The company filed the charge with the National Labor Relations Board.

“This action by the USW is extremely disappointing and the impact it has on individuals and families is saddening,” Brown said.
 (read more)

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Brent above $61 as Iran news offsets U.S. stockpiles

Reuters -- (Reuters) - Brent crude future prices rose above $61 a barrel on Thursday, as investors brushed aside bearish U.S. inventories data to focus on the lack of a deal in talks over Iran's nuclear program.

Tehran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Wednesday no deal had been reached on the duration of any possible final agreement with world powers on Iran's program. That allayed investors' fears of an imminent rise in Iranian oil supply.

Brent LCOc1 has traded around $60 since mid-February, rebounding from a six-year low of about $45 hit in January.

Brent crude front-month futures rose 77 cents to $61.32 a barrel by 4.59 a.m. ET while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 rose 65 cents to $52.18.

A two percent gain in the previous session narrowed WTI's  (read more)

Submitted 5 hours ago By:

U.S. crude oil storage capacity utilization now up to 60%

EIA -- Crude oil inventory data for the week ending February 20 show that total utilization of crude oil storage capacity in the United States stands at approximately 60%, compared with 48% at the same time last year. Most U.S. crude oil stocks are held in the Midwest and Gulf Coast, where storage tanks were at 69% and 56% of capacity, respectively, as of February 20. This capacity use calculation reflects only crude oil stored in tanks or underground caverns at tank farms and refineries, and excludes some crude oil that is included in commercial inventory data, such as pipeline fill and lease stocks held in production areas.
Capacity is about 67% full in Cushing, Oklahoma (the delivery point for West Texas Intermediate futures contracts), compared with 50% at this point last year.  (read more)

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Refinery Strike: Tesoro Blames Steelworkers, Nurses, Occupy, Environmentalists For Calif. Baseball W

IBTimes -- Spring is coming soon, but baseball season in the San Francisco Bay Area has been disrupted.

Oil giant Tesoro is locking out 600 youth baseball players from practicing on 15 fields located next to its refinery in Martinez, California. As part of a nationwide work stoppage involving some 7,000 workers, the Martinez workers have been on strike since Feb. 2, with regular pickets from the United Steelworkers and their allies protesting health and safety conditions.

“It’s for the safety of the kids and the parents and spectators that would have to cross picket lines,” Tesoro spokeswoman Patricia Deutsche explained to the local press. “We just don’t have to expose them to any negative interactions.”

In another interview, Deutsche specifically mentioned the threat of outside agitators from...  (read more)

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Student teams rev their engines for Shell Eco-marathon in Motor City

fuel fix -- University of Houston engineering seniors Roberto Guerra and Alberth Chavez have a big job this weekend.

Flanked by their crew of local high school students and the 60-pound steel frame of a bullet-shaped car at Houston City Hall on Wednesday, they said they’re planning to test out the car’s methane-fueled engine that could, if all goes smoothly, get the equivalent of 200 to 300 miles to the gallon.

Getting it right would bring them one step closer to the Shell Eco-marathon in Detroit next month, a fuel-efficiency competition that will draw more than 1,000 college and high school students from around the United States and from Brazil Guatemala Mexico and Canada.

They’ll see who can get the most out of their souped-up vehicles using compressed natural gas, biofuels gasoline and diesel.  (read more)

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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Billionaire Warren Buffett Says Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Delay Jeopardises Canada-US Relations

IBTimes -- If it were up to billionaire and business magnate Warren Buffett, the Keystone XL oil pipeline project would have been approved for construction years ago. But since he is not the president of the U.S. he cautioned that furthering delaying the project that will traverse between Canada and the U.S. could jeopardise relations between the two allies.

In an interview with CNBC, Buffett said Mr Obama’s vetoing the legislation that could have fast tracked the project was like saying no as a whole to Canada itself. “Canada’s been a terrific partner for us over the decades and it is wrong for us to thumb our nose at them,” Buffett said.

The proposed $8-billion, 1,200-mile Keystone XL oil pipeline project had been on the table of the vetting process in the U.S. for over six years now. Mr Obama...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

US running out of room to store oil

Times Bulletin -- NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. has so much crude that it is running out of places to put it, and that could drive oil and gasoline prices even lower in the coming months.

For the past seven weeks, the United States has been producing and importing an average of 1 million more barrels of oil every day than it is consuming. That extra crude is flowing into storage tanks, especially at the country’s main trading hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, pushing U.S. supplies to their highest point in at least 80 years, the Energy Department reported last week.

If this keeps up, storage tanks could approach their operational limits, known in the industry as “tank tops,” by mid-April and send the price of crude — and probably gasoline, too — plummeting.

“The fact of the matter is we are running out of storage cap  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Steelworkers’ local reminds strikebreakers of their union oath

fuel fix -- The United Steelworkers union local in Pasadena accused its members who have crossed the picket line of personal greed and asked them to remember the unity pledge they took when they joined the union.

“It should be thought of and remembered that these Strikebreakers have thought of no one but their own situation and how to easiest remedy it short term,” says a letter which will be distributed to members of Steelworkers Local 13-227 in Pasadena. The union represents workers at LyondellBasell’s refinery.

The local union reminded its members about the initiation oath they took that included a promise to abide by the laws of the union, including “I will cease work when authorized and approved by the organization to do so.”

The union is responding to reports that some workers have crossed...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Oil export bans creating market glut that could strangle U.S. boom, CEO warns

The Washington Times -- An emerging glut in U.S. oil markets is one more reason the U.S. government should lift long-standing bans of exporting oil to foreign customers, the head of one of the country’s biggest energy giants said Tuesday.

Ryan Lance, the chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips, told a U.S. Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday that the U.S. is in the midst of an energy renaissance, but that to keep the oil boom hitting on all cylinders, the country will need to start exporting surplus barrels of crude.

Rising domestic production has already borne economic fruits for many Americans, he noted. The U.S. oil and natural gas industry now supports 9.8 million domestic jobs and has contributed more than 8 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. In addition, those who work in the oil industry have a m  (read more)

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Consumer Alert: Beware of Skimmers at the Gas Pump

WCTV -- TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In just the past two months, inspectors with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have removed eight credit card skimmers from gas station pumps across the state. These skimmers are used to steal the credit card information from consumers, and the thieves then use the card information to make purchases in someone else’s name. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services works to protect consumers from fraud and scams, and this week, March 1-7, is National Consumer Protection Week.

“Consumers should be aware of potential scams and be careful when they are pumping gas or using their credit cards over the phone or Internet,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

Here’s what consumers should do to avoid skimmers at gas stat  (read more)

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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

U.S. West Coast gasoline prices rise at record pace: EIA

Reuters -- SAN FRANCISCO, March 2 (Reuters) - Retail prices for regular gasoline in West Coast states rose a record 37.2 cents a gallon since last week to $3.12 a gallon on Monday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said.

The increase marks the largest week-to-week increase in the region since the EIA's weekly survey of West Coast prices began in 1992, the government agency said.

Prices were lowest in the Rocky Mountain states at $2.12 a gallon, up 8.2 cents, the EIA said.

California, which relies heavily on in-state production to meet its large demand for fuels, has seen its output hampered by an explosion and fire at Exxon Mobil Corp's 155,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery in Torrance, California, on Feb. 18. Units unaffected by the blast are operating.

In the San Francisco area,  (read more)

Submitted Mar 03, 2015 By:

Paying more at the pump; gas prices up 34 cents in last 31 days

So long sub $2.00/gallon gas. AAA said prices have increased on average 34 cents over the past 31 days bringing the national average for a gallon of gas to $2.41.

Gas costs more than $2.00/gallon in every single state now, as compared to the start of February 2015 when drivers in 25 states filled up for less than $2.00/gallon.

The price jump is making some people budget a little more closely.

"I prepay, I prepay at the pump, gas prices are too high just to let it run like that, I have to prepay," driver Alex Jones said as he filled up his tank Monday night.

In Roanoke the average price for a gallon of regular is $2.18. The price of a gallon of gas is still down $1.07 as compared to this time last year.  (read more)

Submitted Mar 03, 2015 By:

Oil prices steady along with global markets, but oversupply remains

Reuters --

Oil prices firmed on Tuesday in Asian trading, tracking stronger global equity markets and as the U.S. rig count continued to fall, but analysts warned the market remained oversupplied.

An index of Asian shares edged higher on Tuesday, bolstered by another record day on Wall Street, while a resurgent yen helped knock the U.S. dollar index off an 11-year high, making commodities priced in the greenback slightly cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Data showing China's January crude oil throughput climbed 0.6 percent on year to 39.35 million tonnes, or 9.27 million barrels per day, also supported the oil market.

Front-month Brent crude futures were trading up 53 cents at $60.07 a barrel by 0807 GMT, though significantly below the day's high of $60.74. U.S. WTI futures were up 41 cen  (read more)

Submitted Mar 03, 2015 By:

Florida Governor applauds Wawa expansion in the Sunshine State

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..flgov.comFlorida Governor Rick Scott and Chris Gheysens, president and CEO of Wawa Inc., have announced that Wawa's continued growth across Florida and expansion plans for 2015 and 2016 are ahead of schedule. “We met with Wawa executives to discuss all of the great things Florida has to offer their company and to congratulate them on their expansion in the Sunshine State. We heard directly from company leadership that, compared to other states, they’re finding more and more opportunities in Florida because of our efficient permitting processes,” said Scott.   Wawa has 61 stores in Florida and will open its first store in southwest Florida, with the grand opening of three new stores in Fort Myers on April 23.Throughout 2015 and 2016, Wawa plans to open 25 stores per year spread throughout the Orlando, Tampa, Southwest Coast and Daytona markets. ...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 03, 2015 By:

Analysts Say Gas Prices Are About to Collapse

Associated Press -- The U.S. has so much crude that it is running out of places to put it, and that could drive oil and gasoline prices even lower in the coming months.

For the past seven weeks, the United States has been producing and importing an average of 1 million more barrels of oil every day than it is consuming. That extra crude is flowing into storage tanks, especially at the country's main trading hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, pushing U.S. supplies to their highest point in at least 80 years, the Energy Department reported last week.
 (read more)

Submitted Mar 03, 2015 By:

Monday, March 02, 2015

Iraq minister sees oil at $64 to $65 per barrel

REUTERS -- Iraq's Oil Minister Adel Abdel Mehdi said on Sunday world oil prices were gradually rebounding and he expected to see a barrel of crude selling at around $65.

"I don't think they will return to their previous levels. I can see that oil will be sold at $64 to $65 a barrel," he told a news conference in Baghdad.

Global benchmark Brent crude closed on Friday at $62.58 a barrel after falling as low as $45.19 in January, less than half its price in the middle of last year.

OPEC producer Iraq has been hit by the slump, with revenues falling sharply just as it faces a costly military campaign against Islamic State militants who have seized large parts of the north and west of the country.

Iraq's oil revenues for February were just a fraction under $3.5 billion, on exports of 2.535 million...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 02, 2015 By:

Experts: Prepare for a Gas Price Increase

ABC -- Minnesota’s average gallon of gas is $2.38, which is up about forty cents from a month ago. Nationwide in one month, the average gallon of gas has increase 54 cents. Oil refineries are starting to prepare for the warmer weather which is one of the causes for this increase.

“This is the time of year when we just started to transition to more expensive blends of gasoline’s. With that ultimate destination being that very stringent and expensive summer gasoline that will eventually show up when temperatures warm. I know it’s crazy with the snow and cold outside to be talking anything summer related but the transition has begun,” said Senior Petroleum Analyst for Gas Buddy Patrick DeHaan.

The summer blend of gasoline is a cleaner burning fuel. Because of this oil refineries have to do mainte  (read more)

Submitted Mar 02, 2015 By:

Oil falls more than 1 percent on dollar, supply concerns

Reuters -- (Reuters) - Oil dropped more than 1 percent on Monday, with Brent slipping to around $62 a barrel, depressed by a stronger dollar and a rise in Libyan crude output.

The U.S. dollar hit an 11-year high against a basket of currencies after a rate cut in China dented the Chinese yuan and also hit emerging Asian currencies. [FRX/]

Brent crude hit a low of $61.78 a barrel and was at $62.08 by 0910 GMT (4.10 a.m. EST), down 50 cents.

Front-month Brent jumped 18 percent in February, the largest monthly rise since May 2009. U.S. crude was down 55 cents to $49.21 a barrel.

Disruption to oil supplies from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has helped support crude with lower output from Libya and Iraq in the first couple of months of this year.

But output fr  (read more)

Submitted Mar 02, 2015 By:

Oil, gas wastewater may be sent to Neb.

The Durango Hearld -- A Colorado oil company’s plan to dispose of gas and oil wastewater by injecting it into a deep well in western Nebraska is drawing strong objections from residents who live near the proposed site. Wastewater disposal certainly is not the most glamorous oilfield job, but it’s essential to keeping things running smoothly, especially in Colorado and Wyoming, where oil wells pump up significantly more water than oil.The energy company, T-Rex Oil of Broomfield, is proposing what would be the largest operation of its type in Nebraska, accepting upward of 80 truckloads and 10,000 barrels of wastewater a day at the Sioux County site, Inside Energy and NET News in Nebraska have learned. The wastewater would come from Colorado, Wyoming and possibly some from Nebraska.The brine then would be  (read more)

Submitted Mar 02, 2015 By:

Oil Drops as Gain in Saudi Arabian Output Boosts OPEC Production

Bloomberg -- (Bloomberg) -- Oil fell after the first monthly gain since June as Saudi Arabia stepped up production, lifting OPEC’s output beyond its collective quota for a ninth month.
Futures decreased as much as 1.1 percent in New York. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped 30.6 million barrels a day in February, according to a Bloomberg survey. Oil sank almost 50 percent in 2014 as Saudi Arabia led the group’s decision in November to maintain its output target at 30 million a day, exacerbating a global glut.
West Texas Intermediate’s discount to European prices settled at the widest in more than a year on Feb. 27 as U.S. crude stockpiles expanded to the highest level in weekly data that started August 1982. The oversupply has driven U.S. drillers to cut the number of rigs in servi  (read more)

Submitted Mar 02, 2015 By:

Sunday, March 01, 2015

OPEC is its own worst enemy

Business Insider-The Motley Fool -- There's a growing rift among the nations within OPEC.

Just this past week the Nigerian oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, said that OPEC could need to call an emergency meeting to discuss the persistently low price of oil. However, another member quickly piped up and said there was no need for an emergency meeting.

Nigeria's desire for a meeting comes just a month after Venezuela's president went on an around the world trip to meet with fellow OPEC members as its financial situation grows dire. What's becoming increasingly clear is that OPEC is at war not just with U.S. and Russian oil companies, but it is also battling a war within.

OPEC to the rescue?

As it stands right now OPEC is next due to meet this June as part of its bi-annual schedule. However, several of its members...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 01, 2015 By:

OPEC's Oil Price War Is Paying Off, But It's Far From Over

The Motley Fool -- The impact of OPEC's decision to keep oil production at 30 million barrels per day in order to push down oil prices and squeeze marginal oil producers out of the market is starting to pay off. Drilling activity in the U.S., offshore, and internationally has slowed dramatically in the last two months as companies began to realize that OPEC wasn't playing around this time.

Flooding the market with oil is working to put pressure on marginal players, but it's a strategy that's far from over. New wells aren't being drilled, but existing wells are still producing oil and for OPEC to win this price war it will have to stick together for another 6-24 months. Understanding how OPEC's strategy is working and why it will continue can give some perspective on what will happen with energy stocks in...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 01, 2015 By:

Oil storage in US close to running out: Pro

CNBC -- U.S. crude posted its first monthly gain since June on Friday, but one expert warned that storage in the United States is filling up quickly, and that could send oil lower.

"We are really close," said Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Francisco Blanch, noting that storage could run out by the end of March or early April.

Blanch, the firm's head of global commodities and derivatives, told CNBC's "Power Lunch" that means the only option for oil producers will be to sell and therefore prices can't hold up.

"For WTI, we see those pressures being very pronounced over the next few weeks," he said.

Oil inventories in the U.S. were up 8.4 million barrels last week, according to government data.

On the other hand, the international market has held up a little better, Blanch said.

"We've seen  (read more)

Submitted Mar 01, 2015 By:

Collector car owners experience daylight nightmare

KLAS-TV8 -- LAS VEGAS -- A Washington couple says they were falsely arrested by the Nevada Highway Patrol for stealing a collector car they actually owned.
The highway patrol admitted two errors that led to Robin and Beverly Bruins being removed from their car at gunpoint. And, now, the highway patrol is facing a lawsuit.

It all began with confusion over a license plate on a classic car. A highway patrol dash camera recorded a trooper stating over a loudspeaker: “Driver! Remove your keys from the ignition and put them on the roof now!”

From that point Robin Bruins and his wife experienced a daylight nightmare when the senior citizens found themselves looking down the barrels of police pistols.

“Actually, I think I might have giggled to Bev. I turned and looked back and saw three gun barrels point  (read more)

Submitted Mar 01, 2015 By:

Putting a brake to oil train derailments

USA TODAY -- The latest derailments of trains carrying crude oil in the U.S. and Canada are putting more pressure on government officials to end the fiery crashes.

In fact, Washington is moving closer to adopting proposals that would force improvements in the tank cars and other equipment used to haul oil as well as require new restrictions on operating speeds for those trains and new assessments of rail conditions. Ottawa has taken similar steps.

But a former Obama administration official who played a key role in writing the U.S. proposals says that for all the talk about increasing the thickness and durability of tank cars, the more vital consideration may be putting better brakes on those trains.

"The more I think about it, the more I think that the ECP brakes may be more important than the tank  (read more)

Submitted Mar 01, 2015 By: