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Saturday, March 28, 2015

US drillers are fighting back against OPEC, low oil prices

Augusta Chronicle -- OPEC and lower global oil prices have delivered a one-two punch to drillers in North Dakota and Texas who brought the U.S. one of the biggest booms in the history of the global oil industry.

Now they are fighting back.

Companies are leaning on new techniques and technology to get more oil out of every well they drill and are cutting costs in an effort to keep U.S. oil competitive with much lower-cost oil flowing out of the Middle East, Russia and elsewhere.

“Everybody gets a little more imaginative, because they need to,” says Hans-Christian Freitag, the vice president of technology for the drilling services company Baker Hughes.

Spurred by rising global oil prices, U.S. drillers learned to tap crude trapped in shale starting in the middle of the last decade and brought about a surpris  (read more)

Submitted 32 minutes ago By:

Alberta releases new plan for managing oilsands tailings ponds

Canadian Press - EDMONTON -- The Alberta government has released a new plan for managing oilsands tailings ponds that it says will encourage companies to generate less of the toxic waste water and clean it up sooner.

Environment Minister Kyle Fawcett says operators will have clear guidelines on how big their tailings ponds can be during mine operations and how large they will be allowed to be when it closes. Those rules will be backed up by possible financial penalties, he said.

That combination of oversight and enforcement over the life of the mine will force companies to keep pushing for the technological breakthrough on tailings cleanup that has so far remained elusive, said Fawcett.

“Technology unlocked the oilsands,” he said. “It will be key to finding the long-term, effective solutions to tailings ponds manag  (read more)

Submitted 1 minute ago By:

Inhofe on Fracking, Water Contamination

Fact Check -- Sen. James Inhofe says there has never been “an instance of ground water contamination” caused by hydraulic fracturing — fracking — for oil and natural gas. Inhofe’s office told us he is referring only to “the physical act of cracking rocks through hydraulic fracturing.” But drilling operations that involve fracking include other actions that have caused contamination.

A peer-reviewed study published in 2014 found that drinking water wells near fracking sites in Pennsylvania and Texas were contaminated with methane that had the chemical signature of gas normally found only deep underground.

Rob Jackson, a Stanford University professor of earth system science who coauthored the 2014 study, told us that drilling that uses hydraulic fracturing has “contaminated ground waters through chemica  (read more)

Submitted 35 minutes ago By:

Friday, March 27, 2015

Oil prices ease as market sees little threat of supply disruptions from Yemen

CNBC REUTERS -- Oil prices edged lower in early trading in Asia on Friday as traders estimated that the threat of a disruption to world crude supplies from Saudi Arabia-led air strikes in Yemen was low.

Goldman Sachs said in an overnight note that the strikes in Yemen would have little effect on oil supplies as the country was only a small crude exporter and tankers could avoid passing its waters to reach their ports of destination.

Internationally traded Brent crude futures were trading at $58.88 a barrel at 0121 GMT, down 31 cents from their last settlement. U.S. crude was down 40 cents at $51.03 a barrel.

Prices soared as much as 6 percent the previous day after a Saudi-led coalition of Arab nations began strikes on Shi'ite Houthis and allied army units who have taken over much of Yemen and seek...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Pothole repair season begins for northern half of U.S.

GasBuddy Blog --
Image From ..state.nj.usLike many states across the U.S. from Oregon to Maine, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has begun a statewide campaign to repair potholes.
To deal with potholes in the most aggressive and efficient manner, the Department will be allowing crews through the state to close travel lanes where necessary during daytime hours, including during peak travel times for priority repairs.  
In addition to the Department’s usual winter pothole repair method of using cold patch material, NJDOT is using 13 state-of-the-art pothole-filling machines, which make a more durable repair than cold-patch. The pothole-filling machine, which was demonstrated today, is a truck that can heat a mix of asphalt and gravel before injecting the mixture into the pothole. These machines require just one person to operate, with another worker operating a safety truck.  ...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

AWD Ford Focus RS to make U.S. debut at New York auto show

MLive -- The all-new, all-wheel-drive Ford Focus RS, highly anticipated by rally enthusiasts and others, is making its U.S. debut next week at the New York International Auto Show.

The sporty, 4-door hatchback was unveiled last month in Cologne, Germany, where Ford's RS performance label was first born with the Ford 15M RS in 1968.

The new Focus RS debuts the company's Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive with Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control system. It will come equipped with a 315-plus-horsepower, 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine.

"Customers have begged for the Focus RS to come to the United States for years" Raj Nair, Ford's group vice president of global product development, said in a release Wednesday. "And now we can say that they are getting one of the most innovative, powerful and best-looking.,.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Toyota to make hybrid RAV4

USAToday -- Toyota plans to use the New York Auto Show to introduce a natural extension to its crossover line -- a hybrid version of the RAV4.

Toyota already has a Highlander hybrid, which runs on both electricity and its gas engine. An all-electric plug-in version of the RAV4 was dropped after it was announced last year that Tesla would no longer be supplying the batteries.

For now, Toyota is only showing a hint of the look of the new RAV4. It makes its debut next week.

The new RAV4 is keeping with Toyota's pledge to extend hybrid technology across its line. Because it's a compact SUV, there's a little more space inside to pack in suitcase-sized hybrid batteries than would be found in a sedan. And Toyota is banking that there are plenty of eco-minded families willing to pay a little more for a hyb  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

The Texas Town That Just Quit Fossil Fuels -- Last week Georgetown, Texas, a town of about 50,000 about 30 miles north of Austin (and the home of Nolan Ryan) announced that the utility that it owns, Georgetown Utility Systems, would soon get 100 percent of the electricity it provides from renewables.* How? At the beginning of last year, Georgetown made a deal with EDF Renewable Energy to acquire about 75 percent of the output of the 194-megawatt Spinning Spur 3 wind farm, now under construction in West Texas, for 20 years. That accounts for about half of the utility’s needs. Last week it announced it would purchase the output of two large solar plants, with a combined capacity of 150 megawatts, that Sun Edison will build in West Texas, for 25 years.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Oil prices surge after Saudi air strikes in Yemen

Reuters -- Brent crude oil prices shot up nearly 6 percent on Thursday after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies began a military operation in Yemen, although Asian importers said they were not immediately worried about supply disruptions.

The strike against Houthi rebels, who have driven the president from Yemen's capital Sanaa, could stoke concerns about the security of oil shipments from the Middle East.

Oil prices jumped as traders and importers said they were worried the Saudi attack was a sign that fighting in the oil-rich Middle East was spreading and out of control.

Brent crude oil futures rose as high as $59.71 a barrel, up almost 6 percent since their last settlement, before dipping back to $57.80 a barrel at 0402 GMT, still up $1.32. U.S. crude was up $1.64 at $50.85 a barrel  (read more)

Submitted Mar 26, 2015 By:

Americans consuming least amount of gasoline since the 80's

GasBuddy Blog -- A study out by the University of Michigan boldly claims that Americans are consuming the least amount of gasoline since tracking began in 1984.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) study by Michael Sivak said average fuel consumption by U.S. motorists dropped in 2013 to its lowest level since 1984, the first year data was recorded.

The drop is astounding, as consumption now stands some 14 to 19 percent lower than when it peaked in 2004, said Sivak. The numbers shows that in 2013 the amount of fuel consumed per person was about 392 gallons, while overall households consumed an average of just over 1,000 gallons- declines of 17 percent and 19 percent, respectively, since 2004- when numbers peaked. Overall consumption by vehicle dropped to 524 gallons while gallons per driver dropped to 583 gallons....  (read more)

Submitted Mar 26, 2015 By:

Cars Mysteriously Break Down After Drivers Fill Up at New Jersey Gas Station

NBC New York -- Drivers filling up their tanks at a New Jersey gas station say their cars are getting damaged and they suspect it has to do with what's being pumped out of the gas lines.

Police in Hopatcong say 10 drivers have reported problems after filling up at the Enrite gas station. Drivers continued to pull up all evening Wednesday to tell NBC 4 New York how their cars have broken down after they filled up there.

Marlene Caprio said her car had to be towed from Bergen County after it was damaged extensively. Leah Keyes said her brand-new car "totally died."

Mechanic Andrew Muns recounted another customer's experience: "It wouldn't start. She said, 'I went to hit the gas and it was bucking and kept stalling and shutting off.'"

The drivers said their mechanics told them their gas tanks were loaded  (read more)

Submitted Mar 26, 2015 By:

Proposal would outlaw holding cellphone while driving in NC

WRAL -Channel 5 - Raleigh -- A state lawmaker wants to close a loophole that makes it very difficult for law enforcement officers to enforce North Carolina's ban on texting while driving.

North Carolina is one of 40 states that have laws against texting while driving. Yet, people still send and read text messages behind the wheel, and punishing them isn't so easy.

A WRAL Investigates report last July found that 1,458 people were cited with texting while driving in Wake County in 2013. Of the 1,367 cases disposed of in the county that year in Wake County, fewer than half resulted in drivers paying the $290 in fines and court costs. Many drivers fought their tickets and won.

The current law applies only to moving vehicles – drivers stopped at a red light can text and email – but drivers are still allowed to type ...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 26, 2015 By:

Why Bombing This Tiny Oil Producer Is Roiling the Energy Market

BloombergBusiness -- While Yemen contributes less than 0.2 percent of global oil output its location puts it near the center of world energy trade.

The nation shares a border with Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter and sits on one side of a shipping chokepoint used by crude tankers heading West from the Persian Gulf. Global oil prices jumped more than 5 percent on Thursday after regional powers began bombing rebel targets in the country that produced less than Denmark in 2013.

Yemen’s government has collapsed in the face of an offensive by rebels known as Houthis prompting airstrikes led by Saudi Arabia the biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The Gulf’s main Sunni Muslim power says the Houthis are tools of its Shiite rival Iran another OPEC member and halt...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 26, 2015 By:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

75 mph speed limit proposal to be shelved by Ohio lawmakers -- COLUMBUS, Ohio -- State lawmakers are putting the brakes on a proposed 75-mile-per-hour speed limit for the Ohio Turnpike and rural freeways, according to a top House Republican.

The proposed speed limit increase will be pulled from the $7 billion state transportation budget on Tuesday afternoon by a legislative conference committee, according to House Finance Committee Chairman Ryan Smith of Gallia County.

However, a legislative study committee will examine the merits of raising the speed limit, Smith said.  (read more)

Submitted Mar 25, 2015 By:

Sorry, but there was never an oil storage crisis

Yahoo -- Crude oil storage inventories in the US are at their highest levels in decades. Is that going to cause the price of West Texas Intermediate crude to crash? Rapier writes that "oil producers could continue to add a million barrels a week (which is about the average over the past year) for nearly four years before crude oil storage is actually full."

The best-known storage facility, in Cushing, Oklahoma, would run out of space much sooner than that at the current rate (about four months from now). But that still isn't going to happen, according to Rapier. We are currently in the season when refinery utilization is lowest. Refiners take equipment offline in fall and spring to do maintenance, so they use less crude oil at this time of year. This maintenance usually peaks in March.  (read more)

Submitted Mar 25, 2015 By:

U.S. workers set to return next week to Shell Deer Park refinery

REUTERS -- Striking workers are scheduled to return to their jobs next week at Royal Dutch Shell Plc's joint-venture refinery in Deer Park, Texas, said an official of the United Steelworkers union (USW), ending a near two-month walkout.

Workers will begin returning to work on Monday, said Lee Medley, president of the USW local 13-1. The 800 workers walked off their jobs when the largest refinery strike in 35 years began on Feb. 1.

The national strike spread to 15 plants including 12 refineries that accounted for one fifth of U.S. crude oil refining capacity. Only one refinery, Tesoro's Martinez, California refinery was shut due to the strike.

Three Motiva Enterprises refineries in Louisiana and Texas co-owned by Shell and Saudi Aramco saw workers returning to their jobs this week. The strike at...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 25, 2015 By:

Pipeline industry to review emergency plan disclosures

Calgary Herald -- The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association is moving to head off rising levels of criticism by pipeline opponents over members refusal to disclose details of emergency response plans by forming a task force to look at the issue.
In a news release Monday, the lobby group for Canada’s pipeline industry announced it will develop “guiding principles” around a common approach to disclosing emergency response information by early April.
VP of safety for Calgary-based CEPA, said the move was prompted by a letter in February from the NEB, Canada’s pipeline regulator, to Enbridge regarding its practice of requiring municipalities to sign non-disclosure agreements before being given emergency procedures manuals for its pipelines.
The agreements were criticized by mayors in two Quebec cities, the lette  (read more)

Submitted Mar 25, 2015 By:

Distracted Driving A Factor In 60 Percent Of Teen Crashes

WABE-FM, 90.1, Atlanta -- Young men and women aren’t paying enough attention while behind the wheel.

That’s according to the largest research ever conducted into crash videos of teenage drivers.

A study from AAA shows distractions played a factor in nearly 60 percent of moderate-to-severe crashes involving teenage drivers.

The most common form of distraction was when the driver interacted with other passengers in the vehicle.

Using a cell phone came in a close second.

AAA reports teenagers have the highest crash rate of all demographics in the country.

“Access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a vehicle impact in a way that was previously impossible. The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater ...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 25, 2015 By:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Drillers' new techniques, experience cut well costs, boost yields

TRIBLIVE -- Ray Walker often invokes a favorite saying when asked how shale gas companies can increase production by 20 percent or more while cutting spending on drilling by more than 40 percent.

“The rock rules,” said Walker, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Range Resources Corp., repeating a phrase he used during the Fort Worth-based company's most recent earnings call.

“When you're in the core ... of a play, that means you have the best rock, and the best of all those technical things that make the rock produce more,” he said.

With natural gas prices at their lowest levels since 2012, companies need to squeeze more gas from that rock in the Marcellus and Utica shales, and do it more cheaply. By focusing on drilling in core areas with improved technology and demanding...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 24, 2015 By:

Return to $100 oil unlikely soon, says Saudi Opec governor

The National-Bloomberg News -- Oil is unlikely to rebound to $100 any time soon because higher prices would spur more output and prolong a glut, said Mohammed Al-Madi, Saudi Arabia’s Opec governor.

Oil prices at that level “will let the high-cost producers come back again,” Mr Al-Madi said at a conference in Riyadh on Sunday. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is pumping at a near-record level of about 10 million barrels a day, oil minister Ali Al-Naimi said at the conference.

Brent a global oil benchmark, fell almost 50 per cent in the past year as Saudi Arabia and others in Opec chose to protect their market share over cutting output to boost prices. While US producers have idled rigs for 15 consecutive weeks, output is still running at its highest level since at least 1983.

“Shale-oil companies are...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 24, 2015 By:

Oil heading to $35 by June:

CNBC -- Global oil prices will likely trade between $35 to $40 dollars per barrel by the end of the second quarter, according to one of the world's leading oil experts.

Speaking to CNBC at the 18th annual Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference on Monday, Fereidun Fesharaki, chairman of FACTS Global Energy (FGE), warned that prices could even dip beyond those levels for a brief spell.

"Actually, there is no floor to the price of oil. The oil floor is the cash cost of shale, which is about $20-$25, so it can go as low as that but it won't stay there," he said.

U.S. and Brent crude prices were trading at $46 and $55 respectively, during Asian trade on Monday.

Moreover, the outlook may get worse if a nuclear deal materializes between the U.S. and Iran. The two countries are currently engaged in  (read more)

Submitted Mar 24, 2015 By:

Potholes: They're Back and They're Bad

GasBuddy Blog -- Potholes have returned, and hitting one with your car can do a real number on tires, wheels, steering and suspension, and alignment. To help determine if hitting a pothole has damaged your vehicle, you should watch for these warning signs:Loss of control, swaying when making routine turns, bottoming out on city streets or bouncing excessively on rough roads are indicators that the steering and suspension may have been damaged. The steering and suspension are key safety-related systems. Together, they largely determine your car's ride and handling. Key components are shocks and/or struts, the steering knuckle, ball joints, the steering rack/box, bearings, seals and hub units and tie rod ends.Pulling in one direction, instead of maintaining a straight path, and uneven tire wear, are symptoms of an alignment problem. Proper wheel alignment is important for the lifespan of tires and helps ensure safe handling.Low tire pressure, bulges or blisters on the sidewalls, or dents in the  (read more)

Submitted Mar 24, 2015 By:

Oil rig count drops to lowest level since January 2010

GasBuddy Blog --
Image From rig counts are gaining attention but for all the wrong reasons.  From West Texas to the Appalachians, U.S. oil fields have been shutting down at a pace not seen in decades. And it’s expected to get a whole lot worse.
According to data released by the oil field services company Baker Hughes, there are 1,267 drilling rigs operating in the United States this week, the fewest since January 2010. That is a 34 percent drop since early December, and with crude prices trading around $50 a barrel there is no sign the decline is coming to an end. ...  (read more)

Submitted Mar 24, 2015 By: