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Monday, April 27, 2015

49
votes
Michigan car insurance is the priciest in the U.S.

Detroit Free Press -- Michigan drivers aren't just dodging potholes; they're also combating the nation's most expensive car insurance, according to the latest report.

Michigan drivers pay 136% above, or more than double, the national average of $815 a year, according to a report by insuranceQuotes.com.

And Wayne County is the most expensive county within the most expensive state. Car insurance costs $2,789, or 45% more in Wayne County than the statewide average of $1,923, according to a report by insuranceQuotes.com.

Sky-high auto insurance rates aren't anything new to Michigan consumers.

But the report might add fuel to the argument that the state can no longer afford top-of-the-line coverage.

The state's lawmakers currently are debating a fast-track, potential overhaul of Michigan's no-fault auto...  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
1307 Comments

46
votes
5 years after BP spill, drillers push into riskier depths

Daily Times -- ON THE GULF OF MEXICO: Five years after the nation’s worst offshore oil spill the industry is working on drilling even further into the risky depths beneath the Gulf of Mexico to tap massive deposits once thought unreachable. Opening this new frontier, miles below the bottom of the Gulf, requires engineering feats far beyond those used at BP’s much shallower Macondo well.

But critics say energy companies haven’t developed the corresponding safety measures to prevent another disaster or contain one if it happens — a sign, environmentalists say that the lessons of BP’s spill were short-lived.

These new depths and larger reservoirs could exacerbate a blowout like what happened at the Macondo well. Hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil could spill each day and the response would be slow...  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
1225 Comments

37
votes
Hundreds protest Shell Oil plan for Seattle waterfront

Kirotv.com -- SEATTLE —

The anti-Shell Oil protesters began their march to the Port of Seattle offices just after 4 o’clock Sunday, to make their demand that the multi-national oil company not be allowed to base its drilling operation at Seattle's Terminal 5.

Their protest began two hours earlier.

It made for an impressive sight -- hundreds lining the waterfront -- galvanized by what they contend is one of the most pressing issues of our time.

"If we stop it now," said Steve Xu. "Then we stop arctic drilling."

Twenty-year-old Xu, a University of Washington student, is typical of those the issue seems to be touching.

So many people in the crowd were in their teens and 20s.

"With a community that is united around this idea," said Xu. "We can really stop the drilling. And as more people come on,  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
1209 Comments

30
votes
Brent crude falls below $65 as dollar strengthens

Reuters -- LONDON (Reuters) - Brent crude reversed early gains to fall below $65 on Monday as the dollar strengthened, offsetting signs that U.S. shale output may have started to decline and concerns that fighting in Yemen could disrupt Middle East supplies.

The dollar rose 0.22 percent against a basket of currencies <.DXY>, making dollar-traded commodities such as crude oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.

"It seems that crude oil prices have come under renewed pressure this morning as the U.S. dollar rebounded," said Myrto Sokou, senior analyst at London-based Sucden Financial.

Brent fell 47 cents to $64.81 a barrel by 0936 GMT, having touched $65.61 earlier in the session.

U.S. crude fell 33 cents to $56.82 a barrel, after touching $57.46.

Signs of a possible decline in U.S. c  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
100 Comments

28
votes
BHI: US rig count drops 22 units in 20th straight week of losses

Gas and News toay -- The US drilling rig count fell 22 units to 932 rigs working during the week ended Apr. 24, marking the 20th consecutive week of declines, according to data from Baker Hughes Inc.

The count has now plunged 988 units since the week ended Dec. 5 (OGJ Online, Dec. 5, 2014). The total of 932 is the lowest since July 17, 2009, and 929 fewer units compared with this week a year ago.

Analysts at Raymond James & Associates Inc., however, have predicted an impending trough in the count as well permitting activity picks up (OGJ Online, Apr. 17, 2015). “All things considered, we believe that we are close to a bottom in the rig count, which is likely to be seen in the next couple of months,” they said earlier this week in an energy update.

RJA tracks the issuance of well permits as a leading indicat  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
90 Comments

Sunday, April 26, 2015

53
votes
Like shale oil, solar power is shaking up global energy

Yahoo -- One by one, Japan is turning off the lights at the giant oil-fired power plants that propelled it to the ranks of the world's

top industrialized nations. With nuclear power in the doldrums after the Fukushima disaster, it's solar energy that is becoming the alternative.

Solar power is set to become profitable in Japan as early as this quarter, according to the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF), freeing it from the need for government subsidies and making it the last of the G7 economies where the technology has become economically viable.

Japan is now one of the world's four largest markets for solar panels and a large number of power plants are coming onstream, including two giant arrays over water in Kato City and a $1.1 billion solar farm being built on a salt field in Okayama,  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1509 Comments

51
votes
Rules could kick door open for nuclear power

TRIBLIVE-Dallas Morning News -- For decades, the nuclear power industry has stood at a virtual standstill, a victim of economics and fears over safety. But as President Obama prepares to issue carbon-emission regulations targeting the power industry, nuclear companies are hoping a new era is upon them.

“Something like 65 percent of the existing coal fleet will not be operating. That's (a lot) of electricity that needs to be replaced. Natural gas is going to supply the vast majority of that, but nuclear is going to have a place, too,” said Dan Lipman, vice president of the trade group the Nuclear Energy Institute.

But the industry will face opposition. Nuclear remains a divisive issue among environmentalists. Some support it as a proven means to cut carbon emissions out of the nation's power supply.

 (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
109 Comments

50
votes
As NY readies to ban fracking, lawyers prepare to sue

Iohud -- For the past four months, the state Department of Environmental Conservation's staff — and attorneys — have been putting the finishing touches on a several-thousand-page document that will lay the groundwork for a statewide ban on large-scale hydraulic fracturing.

The agency has reason to be careful: The natural-gas industry and fracking supporters are looking for an opportunity to sue.

DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens says the report, known as the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement or SGEIS, is "literally at the printer." Its impending release will be closely scrutinized by advocates and opponents of shale-gas drilling, who have clashed in a seven-year battle that has long seemed destined to end in a courtroom.

"From a legal process point of view, we've been waiting for  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1528 Comments

47
votes
April oil price gains confound predictions – but volatility ahead

The National -- The strength of oil prices in April has confounded many predictions – and industry experts are forecasting price volatility ahead amid a stuttering demand recovery and unpredictable reactions from oil producers.

The world benchmark North Sea Brent crude oil futures had gained nearly 16 per cent from the start of April, ending last Friday in London at US$65.28 per barrel, with the week’s 3 per cent gain adding to the momentum.

Many analysts had predicted that the first quarter of the year would involve continued price weakness, as the refinery maintenance season added to the market’s woes, with Brent futures having collapsed from a high last summer around $115 per barrel to a low point in mid-January of $46.59 chiefly because of booming oil production in the US and Opec’s unwillingness...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1142 Comments

39
votes
Texas proceeds against two shale disposal wells linked to seismic activity

World Oil -- AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas has directed the Commission’s Hearings Division to initiate proceedings requiring the operators of two disposal wells in the area of Azle, Texas to show cause why the injection permits for the wells should not be cancelled and the wells ordered shut-in due to an alleged connection raised by new seismic research between ongoing operation of the wells and seismic activity in the vicinity.

The two wells at issue are XTO Energy Inc.’s West Lake SWD No. 1, Newark, East (Barnett Shale) Field, Parker County and Enervest Operating L.L.C.’s Briar No. 1, Caughlin (Strawn) Field, Wise County.

“The Railroad Commission has in place strong rules addressing the issue of seismicity and disposal well activity, and it is incumbent upon us to apply these rules  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
70 Comments

Saturday, April 25, 2015

51
votes
If you think this oil rally is over, think again

Market Watch -- Crude-oil futures touched their highest levels of the year this week and they’re not done climbing yet.

Marking their highest settlements since December, West Texas Intermediate crude CLM5, -0.55% the U.S. benchmark, finished Thursday at $57.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude LCOM5, +0.80% the European benchmark, ended Friday at $65.28 a barrel.

Tensions in the Middle East, particularly in Yemen and Saudi Arabia’s involvement, have fueled concerns over supplies in the oil-rich region, giving oil prices a boost.

Prices have also found some support from data Wednesday which showed a weekly decline in U.S. crude production.

“We see near term momentum-driven upside potential from today’s [Brent] price levels, but record U.S. inventory levels (highest in 80 y  (read more)

Submitted Apr 25, 2015 By:
1133 Comments

48
votes
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...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 25, 2015 By:
1697 Comments

45
votes
Ford recalls 389,585 cars for doors that fly open

USA TODAY -- Ford is recalling 389,585 late-model Ford Fiesta, Fusions and Lincoln MKZ sedans because of faulty latches that can allow the doors to fly open while the car is being driven.

Ford says the problem was limited to certain models built its plant in Mexico. It says a part called the pawl spring tab can break, which results in doors that can't be latched. The unlatching problem can occur while the car is being driven.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 25, 2015 By:
136 Comments

45
votes
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...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 25, 2015 By:
1716 Comments

42
votes
Customize your own 2015 Dodge Viper GTC

GasBuddy Blog -- A new online customizer allows car shoppers to build 25 million variations of the 2015 Dodge Viper GTC coupe.As previously reported by Edmunds, Dodge dealers began taking orders for the new Viper GTC in February. Production begins this month at Chrysler's Conner Avenue Assembly plant in Detroit.Prices for the Viper GTC start at $99,590, including a $1,995 destination charge and $2,600 gas-guzzler tax, while the base 2015 Viper SRT starts at $89,590, including destination charge and gas-guzzler tax. ...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 25, 2015 By:
4123 Comments

Friday, April 24, 2015

53
votes
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  (read more)

Submitted Apr 24, 2015 By:
135 Comments

51
votes
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  (read more)

Submitted Apr 24, 2015 By:
1729 Comments

50
votes
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.

 (read more)

Submitted Apr 24, 2015 By:
1751 Comments

48
votes
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.
 (read more)

Submitted Apr 24, 2015 By:
1145 Comments

47
votes
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  (read more)

Submitted Apr 24, 2015 By:
120 Comments

Thursday, April 23, 2015

44
votes
New California proposal: Use less electricity, pay more

San Francisco Chronicle -- In the next four years, Californians who use the least electricity may see their utility bills go up — while those who use the most get a break.

State energy regulators on Tuesday proposed major changes to the way residents pay for electricity in the biggest overhaul of utility rates since California’s energy crisis more than a decade ago.

The state’s big, investor-owned utility companies currently charge different prices for electricity based on four “tiers” of usage as a way to encourage conservation. The proposal issued Tuesday by two administrative law judges at the California Public Utilities Commission would cut that number to two tiers by 2019, with only a 20 percent difference between the prices charged for each. Right now, PG&E’s top residential tier charges twice as much for...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 23, 2015 By:
968 Comments

41
votes
Ethane cracker may be built in shale gas-rich Belmont County

cleveland.com -- COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Thai petrochemical and refining company is considering Belmont County as a possible site to build a refinery that would make ethylene and other plastics from shale gas.

PTT Global Chemical, Thailand's largest integrated petrochemical and refining company and the Marubeni Corp., a Japanese investment adviser, have discussed the project for the last two years with JobsOhio and its regional arm, the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth.

If built, such a refinery, often called a "cracker," could cost several billion dollars, create thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 23, 2015 By:
1544 Comments

41
votes
New Engine Design Produces Energy 25 Percent More Efficiently

Ship and Bunker -- A new engine designed by researchers at the University of Texas Arlington may help vessels produce power up to 25 percent more efficiently, the university announced last week.

The new technology reportedly reduces emissions and burns fuel over 30 times faster than conventional gas engines.

It can also potentially run on an array of fuels such as natural gas, propane, kerosene, and diesel.

"Up to 70 percent of energy is lost in current gas turbine combustion engine technology just because that technology hasn't changed in several decades," said Raheem Bello, an aerospace engineering doctoral candidate and co-founder of Afthon, the group behind the engine.

"We capture the bulk of that energy more efficiently so that it's not wasted as heat in the body of the engine."  (read more)

Submitted Apr 23, 2015 By:
1606 Comments

40
votes
Turning Bakken Oil Well Waste Water Into Clean Geothermal Power

Bloomberg -- Oil fracking companies seeking to improve their image and pull in a little extra cash are turning their waste water into clean geothermal power.

For every barrel of oil produced from a well, there’s another seven of water, much of it boiling hot. Instead of letting it go to waste, some companies are planning to harness that heat to make electricity they can sell to the grid.

Companies such as Continental Resources Inc. and Hungary’s MOL Group are getting ready to test systems that pump scalding-hot water through equipment that uses the heat to turn electricity-generating turbines before forcing it back underground to coax out more crude.

Though the technology has yet to be applied broadly, early results are promising. And if widely adopted, the environmental and financial benefits  (read more)

Submitted Apr 23, 2015 By:
573 Comments

37
votes
Sierra Club calls for injection well moratorium in Oklahoma

The Oklahoman -- The Oklahoma Sierra Club called for a moratorium on wastewater injection wells throughout parts of Oklahoma on Wednesday one day after the Oklahoma Geological Survey called the wells the primary suspected source of the state’s ongoing earthquake swarm.

Along with Food & Water Watch, the local Sierra Club said it would like to see water disposal operations halted in the 16 counties the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and the state geological survey have identified as having the most earthquake activity.

12-month pause

“We think a 12-month moratorium would be a long enough pause to get a much better handle on what is going on,” said Johnson Bridgwater, director of Oklahoma Sierra Club. “We do think it would be enough time to give some indication on whether it is having an affect on the...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 23, 2015 By:
351 Comments