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Saturday, December 20, 2014

How the world's biggest car company wants to get rid of gasoline

Yahoo -- The first thing you notice about the Mirai, Toyota’s new $62,000, four-door family sedan, is that it’s no Camry, an international symbol of bland conformity. First there are the in-your-face, angular grilles on the car’s front end. These deliver air to (and cool) a polymer fuel-cell stack under the hood. Then there’s the wavy, layered sides, meant to evoke a droplet of water. It looks like it was driven off the set of the Blade Runner sequel.
Just as the Prius has established itself as the first true mass-market hybrid, Toyota hopes the Mirai will one day become the first mass-market hydrogen car. On sale in Japan on Dec. 15, it will be available in the U.S. and Europe in late 2015 and has a driving range of 300 miles, much farther than most plug-in electrics can go. It also runs on the mo  (read more)

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U.S. Motorists Set October Driving Record As Pump Prices Tumble

Reuters -- Motorists took to U.S. roads and highways in record numbers in October, fueling the fastest rise in miles driven since 2006, according to data released on Friday by the Federal Highway Administration.

Drivers logged 264.2 billion vehicle miles in October, the most ever for that month and a 2.6 percent increase over October 2013, according to the agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The data adds to signs the steep tumble in U.S. gasoline prices, coupled with a growing economy, is spurring a rapid pick-up in U.S. fuel demand.

At the current pace, 2014 will rank among the top three busiest years on U.S. roads and highways, following only 2004 and 2005. U.S. pump prices fell from around $3.80 a gallon this summer to around $3.20 in October, according to U.S. Energy Informat  (read more)

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Put blind spots in the rearview with this high-tech car

CNBC -- The engineers at Cadillac say they've found the key to further eliminating a driver's blind spot.

Starting with its newest model, the 2016 CT6, the automaker will incorporate streaming video into the vehicle's rearview mirror, which will be fed by a high-definition camera embedded in the center of the trunk.

The technology will give CT6 drivers an immediate view of what's behind them in all lanes, and improve their field of vision by 300 percent, according to Cadillac.
The closest comparison to this kind of rear vision would be driving a convertible with the top down, said Travis Hester, the vehicle's executive chief engineer
The technology eliminates any rear-seat, rear-pillar or passenger obstructions, allowing the driver an unimpeded view of the lanes behind and traditional blind spot  (read more)

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Wind farm operator fined $2.5 million related to bird deaths in Wyoming

CTV News -- Wind farm operator PacifiCorp Energy will pay $2.5 million in fines after pleading guilty Friday to charges related to the deaths of protected birds in Wyoming.
The subsidiary of Portland, Oregon-based PacifiCorp pleaded guilty in federal court in Wyoming to two counts of violating the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act under a plea deal with prosecutors.
The U.S. Justice Department said the charges stemmed from the discovery of more than 370 dead birds at the company's Seven Mile Hill and Glenrock/Rolling Hills wind projects in Carbon and Converse counties from 2009 until now. Authorities counted 38 dead golden eagles and 336 other dead protected birds, including hawks, blackbirds, larks, wrens and sparrows.

It's the second prosecution of a wind energy company for harming or killing...  (read more)

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How oil’s decline could spatter North Dakota Chronicle -- The abrupt decline in oil prices stands to be bad news in North Dakota, a state that has reaped billions in tax revenue as new drilling techniques made it the second-leading producer in the U.S. behind Texas. But a lot of factors will determine how great that impact is.


North Dakota’s petroleum industry could see a big tax cut if crude continues to slide, and if that happens, it means the state will be missing out on billions of dollars. One of the state’s two taxes on wells is a 6.5 percent extraction tax. A state law forgives that tax if the five-month average price of a barrel of oil slips below a “trigger” price. Legislators first endorsed the concept in the mid-1980s, during a time of depressed oil prices.

The current trigger is $52.58 a barrel based on prices for...  (read more)

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Montana mulls 85 mph speed limit

GasBuddy Blog -- Will western states let drivers go too fast? That's what John Glionna of the Los Angeles Times is asking. He says U.S. speed limits are rising nationwide, especially in wide-open Western states, reflecting the more-harried lifestyles of a fast-paced nation. But many safety officials are scratching their heads over a perilous trend they say will lead to more — and more ghastly — fatalities. Each year, excessive speed contributes to one-third of highway deaths nationally."The research is clear and consistent on the safety consequences of raising speed limits," said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "Higher speed limits get people to their destinations faster, but there's always a cost: Ultimately, there will be more severe crashes and more deaths on those roads. At the end of the day, it's simple physics." ...  (read more)

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North Sea oilfields ‘near collapse’ after price nosedive

The Telegraph -- The North Sea oil industry is “close to collapse”, an expert has warned, as a slump in prices piles pressure on drillers to cut back investing in the region.

Robin Allan, chairman of the independent explorers’ association Brindex, told the BBC that it is “almost impossible to make money” with the oil price below $60 per barrel.

“It’s a huge crisis. This has happened before, and the industry adapts, but the adaptation is one of slashing people, slashing projects and reducing costs,” he said.

Mr Allan’s glum outlook for oil production and exploration in the UK Continental Shelf came on a volatile day of trading for crude. Brent – a global pricing benchmark comprising crude from 15 North Sea fields – ended trading in London down 1pc at around $60 per barrel after trading up by as much...  (read more)

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How Obama (and Bush) helped drive down oil prices

Yahoo -- Few people foresaw the nearly 50% plunge in oil prices this year. But the forces reshaping the oil market have been aligning for nearly a decade, with part of the impetus coming from Washington.

In 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which President George W. Bush promptly signed. The EISA raised federal mileage requirements for passenger cars for the first time since 1990, in an effort to reduce U.S. gas consumption and make America less dependent on foreign oil.

The new rules required automakers to achieve average fuel economy of 35 miles per gallon among all the new vehicles in their fleet by model year 2020 -- up sharply from a requirement of 27.5 MPG for cars and 22.2 MPG for light trucks (pickups and SUVs) at the time.

President Obama raised the MPG goa  (read more)

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Motiva backs off hydrocracker expansion at Texas refinery

REUTERS -- Motiva Enterprises has withdrawn its permit request to expand a hydrocracker and diesel hydrotreater unit at its Texas refinery, the largest in the United States.

In a brief letter received by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month, Motiva asked, without explanation, to withdraw its August permit application for the project at the company's 600,250 barrels per day refinery. The company had sought to start construction in April 2015.

Royal Dutch Shell, which operates the refinery it jointly owns with Saudi Aramco, declined to explain Motiva's about-face or say whether the project remains under consideration.

The withdrawal came after global oil prices have fallen nearly 50 percent since June.

"Motiva routinely adjusts our business plans, based on company needs...  (read more)

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Road salt use gets weighed against saving money, environment

Star Tribune -- In a new economic analysis, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says that just a 10 percent reduction in application would save metro area cities and counties at least 35,000 tons of salt and $8 million a year in winter maintenance — along with one or two lakes.
Some 40 lakes, streams and wetlands in the Twin Cities are contaminated with chloride, and that number is expected to rise when the state completes its assessment of another 38 targets later this year.
And after decades of winter salt use, now even groundwater is contaminated. Thirty percent of state monitoring wells in the Twin Cities exceed the standard established to protect aquatic life, and 27 percent are above the level set to protect the taste of drinking water.

Most of the metro area’s drinking water comes from much dee  (read more)

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

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)

Submitted Dec 18, 2014 By:

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)

Submitted Dec 18, 2014 By:

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)

Submitted Dec 18, 2014 By:

Canada's National Average Falls Below 100c/L, First Time Since 2010

GasBuddy Blog -- The national average price of gas in Canada today has fallen to a level not seen since since August, 2010 and now stands at 99.9c /l.  The milestone arrives on the 77th consecutive day on which the national average has declined.  “The price of gas has shed 40c/l, or 28% of its retail value since hitting its peak price this year of 139.3 back on June 22,” said Dan McTeague, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.  “While there’s a confluence of factors that have contributed to the extensive price decline, there’s no question that the newfound cash in consumers’ pockets aligns closely with the concurrent decline in the broad basket of global crudes many of which have shed 50% of their value to date.”   “ ‘How low can they go?’ is the question everyone’s asking,” McTeague adds, “Tough to say, because energy markets are so volatile  prices can move in any direction without notice, including this evening where prices are set to increase across most of Canada.  (read more)

Submitted Dec 18, 2014 By:

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)

Submitted Dec 18, 2014 By:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Citing Health Risks, Cuomo to Ban Fracking in New York State

New York Times -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration announced on Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of debate over a method of extracting natural gas.  (read more)

Submitted Dec 17, 2014 By:

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 Dec 17, 2014 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 Dec 17, 2014 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 Dec 17, 2014 By:

The World's Biggest Car Company Wants to Get Rid of Gasoline

Business Week -- The first thing you notice about the Mirai, Toyota’s new $62,000, four-door family sedan, is that it’s no Camry, an international symbol of bland conformity. First there are the in-your-face, angular grilles on the car’s front end. These deliver air to (and cool) a polymer fuel-cell stack under the hood. Then there’s the wavy, layered sides, meant to evoke a droplet of water. It looks like it was driven off the set of the Blade Runner sequel.

Just as the Prius has established itself as the first true mass-market hybrid, Toyota hopes the Mirai will one day become the first mass-market hydrogen car. On sale in Japan on Dec. 15, it will be available in the U.S. and Europe in late 2015 and has a driving range of 300 miles, much farther than most plug-in electrics can go. It also runs on the m  (read more)

Submitted Dec 17, 2014 By:

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: