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'Extraordinary denial rate' of 9 in 10 earthquake claims rattles Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner

NewsOK/TulsaWorld -- Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak has issued “a loud and clear” message for the insurance industry to handle claims appropriately in response to indications of an “extraordinary denial rate” of nine out of 10 earthquake claims filed in 2014.

In a bulletin sent to insurance companies on Tuesday, Doak warned against basing earthquake claim denials on assertions that the quakes were man-made, calling a link between injection wells and earthquakes “unsettled science,” despite several studies to the contrary.

The state Insurance Department gathered information from “larger earthquake insurance companies” that indicates that only eight of about 100 earthquake claims filed in 2014 were paid.  (go to article)

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Highway 97 crash kills one, injures dozens

The Spokesman-Review -- ORONDO, Wash. – A truck driver apparently fell asleep Thursday before his vehicle crossed the center line of a rural Washington highway and collided with a car and a school bus, killing the car driver and sending dozens of students to the hospital for evaluation, the Washington State Patrol said.

“We do suspect the driver fell asleep,” Trooper Darren Wright said.

Just over a year ago, the driver of the large box truck, identified as Kenneth Hahn, 54, of Yakima, was cited for crossing the center line in an injury collision in the same area, the State Patrol said.

Authorities said the car driver, Carmela Cuellar Morales, 22, of Orondo, died at the scene. A 12-year-old female passenger in her car was injured and taken to Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee.  (go to article)

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Shell hires 'relief workers;' USW calls some members 'greedy'

Beaumont Enterprise -- In the first few weeks of the United Steelworkers union strike, managers stepped in at Shell Oil Co. to keep its refinery and chemical plant running.

As the strike enters its second month, Shell has been training "relief employees" to operate its Deer Park refinery as well as its Norco chemical plant in Louisiana, according to a letter to employees from Aamir Farid, manufacturing vice president, Americas.
...
The strike, which began Feb. 1, includes 14 other refineries and chemical plants that represent about 20 percent of the nation's refining capacity.

Farid said on Tuesday that Shell expects to reach its goal of returning to normal by midsummer.
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One firm looking for field operators is offering $45 an hour plus $40 per day per diem with a guarantee of at least 60 hours a week  (go to article)

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Orange shipyard builds massive barge-to-tanker LNG vessel

Beaumont Enterprise -- Conrad Orange Shipyard will build the first North American barge capable of fueling ships with liquefied natural gas, giving Southeast Texas a stake in a growing market for providing and using LNG as a marine fuel. The 212-foot barge capable of holding 2,200 cubic meters of LNG is scheduled for completion in early 2016.  (go to article)

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Was Mercedes' Gearshift Design To Blame In In Fatal Train-Car Accident?

Jalopnik -- On February 22, a 49-year old woman accidentally drove into the path of an oncoming train. The tragic accident claimed her and five other peoples' lives, and while the exact reason why she drove into the path of the train isn't known, Mercedes-Benz automatic gearshift design is a suspect. Let's see why.

The accident happened when the woman, a mother of three named Ellen Brody, drove her 2011 ML350 to the railroad crossing in Westchester County, NY. There was a lot of traffic, and she inched close to the tracks, to the point where the railroad crossing guard arm came down and struck her rear window. Even so, she was still well clear of the tracks.  (go to article)

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Self-driving cars could save $190B a year in damages and health costs

Computer World -- Each year, roadway crashes account for $212 billion in damages, including deaths, non-fatal but disabling injuries, hospitalizations and property damage.

If advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) achieve anticipated adoption rates, up to 90% of vehicle collisions could be avoided, saving up to $190 billion each year in the U.S. alone, according to a new study.

For example, 2.5 million Americans each year go to a hospital emergency department for crash injuries at an average cost of $3,300 -- and nearly 200,000 of those people are hospitalized. Hospitalizations for crash-related injuries over a person's lifetime cost, on average, $57,000.

The study from McKinsey & Company said ADAS, or autonomous vehicles, could also improve traffic flow and free up time spent in the car for ...  (go to article)

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Big Corn Butters Up the 2016 Presidential Hopefuls

Bloomberg -- It’s been a bad few weeks for corn. On Feb. 26, Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania known for fiscal conservatism, and California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to eliminate federal requirements that oil refiners buy corn-based ethanol and blend it into gasoline. “This is the government using corporate welfare to shower money on a favored industry,” Toomey said in a statement. In the House, Virginia Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte introduced legislation in February to cap the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline. That bill has 43 co-sponsors, including Republicans from Texas and other oil states.

Support for ethanol, a political darling of the past decade, has withered as domestic production of oil and gas has boomed.  (go to article)

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Fracking: Oil company sues to overturn San Benito County fracking ban; could affect other counties

San Jose Mercury News -- An oil company has sued to block San Benito County's voter-approved fracking ban in a move that could affect the growing trend of California cities and counties' efforts to stop the controversial oil drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing.

In the lawsuit, Citadel Exploration, based in Newport Beach, is attempting to overturn Measure J, approved by 59 percent of San Benito County voters four months ago.

A coalition funded by Chevron, ExxonMobil, Occidental Petroleum and other oil giants donated roughly $2.1 million to the opposition campaign in San Benito County, outspending supporters 14-1.

Citadel planned to drill up to 1,000 wells on nearly 700 acres in a remote area south of Pinnacles National Park near Bitterwater, on the southern edge of the county. In July, those plans were de  (go to article)

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How New Autoworkers Became Second-Class Employees

BloombergBusiness -- Veterans earn twice the pay of newbies who do the same work

In 2010, Sharron Chambers was a member of the middle class, earning between $40,000 and $50,000 a year at Chrysler’s sedan plant in Sterling Heights, Mich. Since then she’s had her pay cut in half while doing the same work. She’s been unable to make the monthly payments on her car and house and has lost both. She had to move with her two children into her sister’s town house in suburban Detroit. They had to sleep on a mattress on the floor.

Chambers has the misfortune of being a Tier 2 wage earner, one of more than 30,000 union autoworkers in the U.S. who make about half as much as their 50,000 Tier 1 colleagues. This caste system was created in 2007, when the United Automobile Workers agreed to cut starting wages to help Chrys  (go to article)

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Train carrying Bakken crude derails, burns in Illinois

AP -- A freight train loaded with crude oil derailed in northern Illinois, bursting into flames and prompting officials to suggest that everyone with 1 mile evacuate, authorities said.

The BNSF Railway train derailed Thursday afternoon in a rural area where the Galena River meets the Mississippi, according to company spokesman Andy Williams. The train had 103 cars loaded with crude oil, along with two buffer cars loaded with sand. A cause for the derailment hadn't yet been determined. No injuries were reported.

Only a family of two agreed to leave their home, Galena City Administrator Mark Moran said at a news conference late Thursday, adding that the suggestion to evacuate was prompted by the presence of a propane tank near the derailment.

The derailment occurred 3 miles south of Galena in a  (go to article)

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Feds call for greater police presence at RR crossings; stiffer penalties for motorists

GasBuddy Blog -- The Federal Railroad Administration said it is calling on police departments around the country to beef up the law enforcement presence at crossings and dole out stiffer penalties to drivers who ignore signals, said Kevin Thompson, an agency spokesman.The announcement came the same day an LIRR train became the downstate New York region’s third commuter train in a month to plow into a vehicle, and the second Long Island Railroad (LIRR) train to do so in 24 hours, according to the New York Post. ...  (go to article)

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Norway-based oil company agrees to pay $2 million for operating illegal North Dakota oil well

Star Tribune -- A Norwegian oil company that illegally operated a well on federal property in North Dakota has agreed to pay a nearly $2 million settlement to avoid legal action, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

Authorities say the well was drilled about two weeks after Statoil Oil & Gas Services Inc. acquired Brigham Oil & Gas L.P., which had originally planned the facility. The company later discovered that the well drilled into unleased federally owned minerals.

Timothy Purdon, U.S. Attorney for North Dakota credited Statoil for its willingness to settle the case without forcing the government to file a civil suit.

"It is heartening to see a big oil company like Statoil step up ... to make things right when a mistake is made" Purdon said. "Statoil's full cooperation with this investigation...  (go to article)

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Honda Accord Hybrid: Supply Now Sufficient To Meet Demand

GreenCar -- The Honda Accord Hybrid was launched as a 2014 model, and the first few were sold back in October 2013.

But over the next year, despite favorable reviews and a handful of awards, the Accord Hybrid remained a rare beast indeed on dealership lots.

Now, more than a year later, it appears that supply has finally caught up to demand for Honda's 47-mpg hybrid mid-size sedan.

DON'T MISS: 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Still In Very Short Supply: Why? (Aug 2014)

Green Car Reports wrote last August that reader complaints about lack of availability were continuing to come in, 10 months after the hybrid Accord's launch.

At that time, Angie Nucci, senior environment & safety specialist for Honda North America, said Honda was suffering from "component supply constraints" on the hybrid version of the Acc  (go to article)

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Koenigsegg's super hybrid: Zero to 248 in less than 20 seconds

CNN -- It looks like a Transformer, has 1,500 horsepower and can go from zero to 248 miles per hour in less than 20 seconds.
It's the new super hybrid Regera that Swedish car maker Koenigsegg unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show on Tuesday.
Regera means "to reign" in Swedish and the car is due to go in production later this year. Deliveries are expected to start next year.
But only 80 of the cars expected to be built over the next five years, and the price tag is expected to be about $1.9 million each. The company has already started taking orders.
It is notable for the lack of a traditional gearbox and transmission, which were eliminated partly to reduce weight and improve performance.
Its battery pack is also smaller and lighter but also more powerful than those found in other electric or hybrid ca  (go to article)

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California State Senate holds hearing in Torrance on refinery explosion

FuelFix -- A state Senate committee hearing is scheduled Thursday into the safety record of the Torrance refinery where an explosion last month injured several people and shut down the plant, throttling California’s gasoline production and helping to drive up prices.

Refinery owner Exxon Mobil officials, first-responders and representatives of government environmental agencies were scheduled to appear at the public hearing at Torrance City Hall. They were expected to answer questions on the refinery’s safety record, the accident’s impact on the Los Angeles-area community and on state efforts to prevent and respond to such accidents.

The hearing, being held jointly by several Senate committees, will be followed by a March 24 hearing in Sacramento that will focus on the volatility of oil prices...
 (go to article)

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As strike lingers, some BP workers return to refinery

Post-Tribune -- One month into a national strike and less than a week after they were urged to "stay the course," some United Steelworkers members are beginning to cross the picket line and return to work at BP Whiting Refinery, a BP spokesman said.

"Several USW-represented employees have contacted us in the last few weeks and we have begun the process of bringing them back to work," BP spokesman Scott Dean said.

He said these union employees will return to the units on which they are qualified and will be worked into the same shift schedules as the replacement workers who have been operating the plant since Feb. 8, when members of USW Local 7-1 walked off the job.

Dean did not say how many of the 1,100 USW members are returning.

Dave Danko, president of Local 7-1, said he didn't have any...  (go to article)

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Volatile Bakken crude expected to keep flowing through Texas

Fuel Fix -- AUSTIN – Despite falling oil prices, production cutbacks and persistent safety concerns, rail officials plan to continue shipping millions of gallons of volatile crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota through Texas, according to updated records provided by state officials on Wednesday.

Average weekly volumes reflect little change from a first batch of disclosures released last week. Those disclosures, dated last summer, provided a limited view of forecasted shipments.

Volumes in Harris County remain the highest, an average topping out at six million gallons a week.

Federal emergency orders — approved last spring after a series of fiery derailments involving Bakken crude — require railroad companies to warn state public safety officials of shipments exceeding a one-million gall  (go to article)

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Lower gas prices fueling saving, paying off debt

USA Today -- Some folks are using their savings from lower gas prices to pay down their bills while others are tucking it away in savings, a new investor survey shows.

People say the drop in gas and oil prices since last year is saving them an average of $108 a month, with retirees saving an estimated $68 a month and non-retirees $117, according to the Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of 1,011 investors, conducted in late January and early February. The median age of retirees was 69; non-retirees, 47. An investor was defined as an adult in a household with $10,000 or more in savings and investments.

The data show that 7 out of 10 respondents are using the extra money to improve their personal balance sheets, which is "good news," says Joe Ready, director of institutional retirement for Wells Fargo.  (go to article)

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Gas Prices in Nova Scotia

CBC News -- This week CBC News is projecting an increase in the price of gas in NS  (go to article)

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Canada's Worst Driver looking for Montreal contestants

Montreal Gazette -- Tap here to nominate yourself or a loved one before the end of Apr. The list of names will be pared to 8 candidates who, according to the Discovery show’s formula, will be offered expert training and advice. One student will graduate each week until the last remaining driver is crowed Canada’s Worst Driver
This season’s challenges and training will focus on speed, one of the leading causes of death on Canadian roads
“The faster you drive, the greater the risk to your life. Period. Not only are we looking for speeders this time around, we’re looking for slowpokes and those who have issues when it comes to controlling the gas pedal
The episodes will be filmed this summer in S ON. The 8 final contestants will be flown to the Drivers Rehabilitation Centre for the duration of filming  (go to article)

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Oil glut putting pressure on U.S storage capacity

petroglobalnews.com -- A record oil supply glut is putting pressure on storage capacity and could push oil and gasoline prices even lower in coming months.

An Energy Department report released last week found that U.S. crude supplies are at their highest level in 80 years and are pushing storage capacity to the limit.

During the last seven weeks the United States has been producing and importing an average of 1 million extra barrels of oil per day with U.S. crude supplies hitting a record 434.1 million barrels during the week ending on February 20.

U.S. crude production also climbed to a record high 9.29 million barrels per day that week, the highest weekly production level on record and the highest level since 1973 in monthly data.  (go to article)

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Crude-oil prices rise as Saudi Arabia hints at rising demand

MarketWatch -- SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — U.S. oil futures finished higher on Wednesday, despite a spike in U.S. weekly crude supplies, as a move by Saudi Arabia and comments from its oil minister implied strength in demand for oil.

Crude for delivery in April CLJ5, +0.49% climbed $1.01, or 2%, to settle at $51.53 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices had dropped below $50 after a government report showed that weekly crude supplies jumped by more than 10 million barrels.

April Brent crude on London’s ICE Futures exchange LCOJ5, +0.20% settled lower, but off the session’s lows, at $60.55 a barrel, down 47 cents, or 0.8%.

Saudi Arabia said it increased its selling prices for its Arab Light crude oil for consumers in the U.S., Europe and Asia...  (go to article)

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BNSF oil train derails in rural Illinois; two cars aflame

Reuters -- A BNSF Railway train loaded with crude oil derailed on Thursday afternoon in a rural area south of Galena, Illinois, with two of the tank cars catching fire, according to local officials and the company.

The incident marks the latest in a series of derailments involving trains hauling crude oil, a trend that has put a heightened focus on rail safety.

Local TV published images of dark smoke rising from the area where the incident occurred, and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency told local WREX.com that initial reports suggested two of the cars were on fire.

The train with 105 loaded cars - 103 of them carrying crude oil - derailed at approximately 1:20 p.m. CST (1920 GMT), according to a BNSF statement. The incident occurred on what appears to be a major rail line alongside the  (go to article)

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Canadian crude-by-rail growth slows as low oil prices bite

Reuters -- Canadian crude-by-rail exports dipped in the fourth quarter from the previous three-month period, National Energy Board data showed on Thursday, as poor netbacks deterred some shippers from loading barrels onto trains bound for U.S. markets.

Canada exported 173,342 barrels per day of crude by rail between October and December last year, down 5 percent from 182,396 bpd shipped across the border in the third quarter.

However, fourth-quarter rail exports were still 16 percent higher than the same period a year earlier.

Canada's largest producer, Suncor Energy, no longer ships crude by rail from northern Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast, despite strong demand for Canadian heavy crude in North America's largest refining area.

The journey is no longer economic, Suncor Chief Executive Steve Wil  (go to article)

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Western Iowa counties hire engineers to oversee proposed pipeline

Associated Press/KCRG.com -- FORT DODGE (AP) — At least three Iowa counties have hired engineers to oversee the installation of a proposed underground oil pipeline, pending its approval.

The Fort Dodge Messenger reports that Webster County on Tuesday approved the hire of an engineer to survey the pipeline’s construction if approved by the Iowa Board of Utilities. Dakota Access, LLC, a unit of Energy Transfer Partners, applied in January for the structure that would cut through 18 Iowa counties.

Calhoun and Sac counties have also secured engineering services.

Webster County officials say the engineer is responsible for drainage districts. They say future agreements will likely cover the 24 roads the pipeline would cross.

The proposed pipeline would carry crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota across S  (go to article)

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White House mulled, then balked at curbing explosive gas on oil trains, leaving ND to decide

Reuters/WDAZ.com -- WASHINGTON - The Obama administration weighed national standards to control explosive gas in oil trains last year but rejected the move, deciding instead to leave new rules to North Dakota alone.

Current and former administration officials told Reuters that they were unsure of federal jurisdiction to force the energy industry to drain volatile gas from crude oil originating in North Dakota's fields.

Instead, they opted to back North Dakota's effort to remove the cocktail of explosive gas - known in the industry as 'light ends' - and rely on the state to contain the risk.

North Dakota's regulations come into force next month.

The administration's internal debate shows that concern about the risks associated with oil trains reached the upper level of the White House. But the admin...  (go to article)

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Storage dearth may drive oil prices to $30

MarketWatch -- SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — As the U.S. runs out of space to store its glut of crude-oil supplies, prices for the commodity could sink to as low as $30 a barrel.

When storage is full, there is pressure on those holding oil in storage to “dump that inventory,” said Charles Perry, chief executive officer of energy-consulting firm Perry Management. So a space shortage could cause a drop in prices to the $30 to $40-per-barrel range, he said.
 (go to article)

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The Price of Oil Is Down, So Why Is Production Still Going Up?

Bloomberg -- Too much oil, too fast.

That turns out to be the downside of the U.S. oil boom — at least if you’re an investor. Prices crashed, and America is pumping so much crude its running out of places to store it. One promising sign you may have heard about: The plunge in U.S. oil rigs.

Every week since 1944, oilfield-services company Baker Hughes has released a survey of rigs out drilling for oil. But it wasn't until oil prices dropped by more than half that "rig counts" became part of everyday business vocabulary. Oil watchers are desperate for any sign of an end to the glut.  (go to article)

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U-Mich: New-vehicle fuel economy down in wintry February

GasBuddy Blog -- According to a monthly report by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle from the University of Michigan, the average fuel economy of newly purchased vehicles fell during the month of February, meaning motorists were buying new cars that were less fuel efficient, on average, than the previous month.

The average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the U.S. in February was 25.2 mpg—down 0.2 mpg from January.  This decrease in fuel economy likely reflects the increased market share of light trucks, SUVs, and crossovers in response to the inclement winter weather in a large part of the country.  Overall, vehicle fuel economy is up 5.1 mpg since October 2007 (the first month of monitoring)....  (go to article)

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What Happened To Big Savings at the Gas Pump?

CNBC -- Some big savings at the pump seem to have gone missing.

The plunge in gasoline prices has generated a windfall for American drivers. But so far, there's little evidence those savings are producing a widely anticipated boost in consumer spending.

So where is all that money going?

There's no question the sharp drop in pump prices since last summer means a much smaller bite out of consumers' wallets. Though fuel prices have bumped up a bit, they're still some 30 percent lower than the five-year average cost.  (go to article)

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Kentucky Drivers Stranded on Snowy Interstate Tweet About Their Plight

ABC News -- Many Kentucky drivers spent the snowy evening in their cars, counting down 12 hours or more via Twitter and foraging for food, after two serious accidents on a major interstate. The state police estimated the backup to be 20 miles long.

Because of a steep hill that police say is almost impossible to climb in the heavy snowstorm, the biggest backup is in the southbound lane of I-65, four miles north of Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Another backup on northbound I-65, south of Elizabethtown, has been as long as 10 miles long, according to police.

Kentucky State Police said Interstate 65 and Highway 71 were virtually shut down. The National Guard and Red Cross were called in to rescue motorists in Hardin County, ABC affiliate station WHAS-TV in Louisville reported.

Stranded drivers and passenger  (go to article)

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Clean fuels bill passes in the House

Statesman Journal -- A bill that would require companies to reduce by 10 percent the carbon in fuels sold in Oregon over the next decade passed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday by a 31-29 margin after five and a half hours of debate.
Its passage appears to have sealed the fate of a proposed transportation package the Oregon Legislature has been working to create, as Republicans have said they refuse to allow both to pass during the 2015 session.
House Republicans said Wednesday evening they would no longer participate in talks to create a bill that would raise the state gas tax and provide dedicated funding for roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
The bill that spurred such a heated debate was Senate Bill 324, which continues a program begun in 2009, as well as altering some aspects of how...  (go to article)

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Oil bust threatens mortgage-backed securities in Wall Street-funded shale towns

Bloomberg -- The oil glut is threatening to expose cracks in the commercial-mortgage bond market.

Nomura Holdings Inc. estimates that $16 billion in property debt that has been sold to investors as securities is vulnerable to default after crude prices plunged, posing risks for the economies of U.S. cities and towns built around the boom.

Wall Street analysts are poring over commercial-mortgage backed securities for signs of distress as the oil crash weighs on demand for real estate in energy hubs. Properties that house workers — such as apartment complexes, mobile-home parks and hotels — are likely to be the first to see vacancy rates rise as oil rigs idle and jobs vanish, according to Nomura debt analysts Lea Overby and Steven Romasko.

“If this oil story persists, oil workers are going to go somep  (go to article)

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Northwest Oil Terminal Plan Would Mean Jobs — And More Oil Trains

NPR -- America's oil boom is going through some growing pains. But despite the recent dip in oil prices, some segments of the industry are focused on long-term growth.

In southwestern Washington state, oil companies want to build the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the country at the Port of Vancouver, on the banks of the Columbia River.

Vancouver, a suburb of Portland, Ore., which lies just across the river, is the most direct rail route from the Bakken oil fields to the Pacific Ocean. But the proposal has raised tensions in this city between concerns over safety and the desire to create jobs.

Linda Garcia has called a working class part of Vancouver home for almost 20 years. "My neighborhood is my family," she says.

But Garcia is concerned about how her neighborhood could change if the term  (go to article)

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The U.S. Is Pumping Even More Oil and Storage Tanks Are Getting Filled to the Brim

Bloomberg -- The U.S. is pumping oil faster than at any time since 1972, and storage tanks are getting filled to the brim.

U.S. oil production rose for the fourth consecutive week, to a rate of 9.3 million barrels a day, even as oil-drilling rigs are being idled at an unprecedented rate. U.S. inventories also rose, for the eighth consecutive week, jumping 2.4 percent to 444 million barrels, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported today.
 (go to article)

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Canadians favour taxes to curb emissions, but not at the gas pump

The Globe and Mail - OTTAWA -- A majority of Canadians says Canada’s efforts to reduce GHG have been dismal and they want the federal government to take the lead in creating tax policies for curbing emissions, a new poll suggests
But a much smaller number of participants in the survey released on Wed said they want to see those taxes reflected at the gas pumps or on home heating bills
Federal and provincial governments work to submit a post-2020 GHG strategy to UN ahead of the Paris summit in Dec, where global governments hope to conclude a climate treaty
When asked to assess Canada’s efforts to cut the output of GHG that contribute to global warming, just 14% of respondents rated them to be “good or “very good, compared with the 29% “poor” and another 28% “very poor
"We are laggards when it comes to reducing GHG
Enviro  (go to article)

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Welcome to the ‘new paradigm’ in crude oil

Market Watch -- SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — The oil market bid farewell to $100 prices for West Texas Intermediate crude back in July, and many years may pass before it sees it again.

Analysts at UBS on Wednesday said the market has entered a “new paradigm,” with WTI oil prices remaining “lower for longer.” They expect prices to trade in the $65 to $70 a barrel range “at least over the next several years.”

“The success of U.S. oil shale has been a game changer for the industry,” the analysts, led by Angie Sedita, said. “U.S. oil shales have lowered the cost of the marginal barrel of oil with roughly 60% of the basins economic at $65/bbl oil or lower.”

That means that quite a few shale plays in the country can break even at a price of $65 or lower, as this UBS chart shows:  (go to article)

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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  (go to article)

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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.  (go to article)

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NHTSA: DUI under influence of marijuana and Rx drugs is on the rise

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From AZmarijuana.comFirst, the good news...
The latest study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on driving behavior says drunk driving has declined.

Unfortunately, the bad news is that the frequency of DUI involving marijuana and/or prescription drugs is on the increase. 

In a voluntary survey on alcohol and drug use, 8 percent of drivers had alcohol in their system on weekend nights, the Post said. That's compared to 20 percent of drivers who admitted to having drugs in their system, the newspaper said. ...  (go to article)

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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.
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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.  (go to article)

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Steelworkers strike: More labor board charges filed

FuelFix -- The National Right to Work Foundation announced Wednesday that three employees at LyondellBasell filed unfair labor practice charges against the United Steelworkers Union.

The charges allege that union officials from Steelworkers Local 13-227 are harassing workers who are going back to work. The charges were filed Monday with the National Labor Relations Board, according to the foundation that is providing free legal help.

The foundation accused an unnamed local union official of making threats toward workers who continue to work during the strike. The group also alleges that union officials have allowed a union Facebook page to threaten union-represented employees who have gone back to work along with those who may be considering it.
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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...  (go to article)

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Oil prices are about to blow a hole in corporate accounting

Bloomburg -- There’s one place in the world where oil is still $95 a barrel. On paper.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission requires drillers to calculate the value of their oil reserves every year using average prices from the first trading days in each of the previous 12 months. Because oil didn’t start its free fall to about $45 till after the OPEC meeting in late November, companies in their latest regulatory filings used $95 a barrel to figure out how much oil they could profitably produce and what it’s worth. Of the 12 days that went into the fourth- quarter average, crude was above $90 a barrel on 10 of them.

So Continental Resources Inc., led by billionaire Harold Hamm, reported last month that the present value of its oil and gas operations increased 13 percent last year to $22.8 bil.  (go to article)

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Environmentalists file suit over California oil refinery project

Reuters -- Environmentalists in California filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Contra Costa County over its approval last month of a plan to increase propane recovery at Phillips 66's Rodeo refinery, saying the environmental review did not take into account the broader impact of the project.

In early February, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors approved the company's request to modify its 78,000 barrel-per-day refinery, located on the San Francisco Bay.

In the lawsuit filed by Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) against the supervisors and Phillips 66, the plaintiffs argue the Propane Recovery Project would require a switch to new oil feedstocks.

That could pave the way for Phillips to bring crude oil, possibly Canadian tar sands crude, by rail to its refinery in Santa Maria before it i  (go to article)

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U.S. petroleum product exports reach record high in 2014

EIA -- EIA’s December Petroleum Supply Monthly data show that exports of noncrude petroleum products from the United States averaged 3.8 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2014, an increase of 347,000 bbl/d from 2013, and a new record high. Increased exports of motor gasoline and hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL), including propane and butane, were the main contributors to the trend, while exports of distillate decreased.

Record-high U.S. refinery runs, which averaged 16.1 million bbl/d in 2014, and increased global demand for petroleum products allowed U.S. petroleum product exports to increase for the 13th consecutive year. U.S. exports are mostly sent to nearby markets in Central America and South America, which grew year-over-year by 172,000 bbl/d (15%), followed by exports to Canada and Mexico,  (go to article)

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MARKET WATCH: NYMEX, Brent crude prices settle higher on Saudi oil hike

Oil & Gas Journal -- Oil prices rose on the New York and London markets Mar. 3 after Saudi Arabia raised the official price for its oil by $1/bbl for US delivery and $1.40/bbl for delivery to Asia, suggesting firm demand. Crude prices also supported by news about more unrest in Libya targeting an oil field.
US light, sweet crude prices closed slightly above $50/bbl Mar. 3 after trading in a somewhat limited range while awaiting the weekly inventory report from the Energy Information Administration for the week ended Feb. 27, which showed supplies built again to remain at record levels.  (go to article)

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Exxon CEO: Get used to lower oil prices

Yahoo Finance -- NEW YORK (AP) -- Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson expects the price of oil to remain low over the next two years because of ample global supplies and relatively weak economic growth.

"People need to kinda settle in for a while," Tillerson said at the company's annual investor conference in New York.

In a presentation to investors outlining its business plans through 2017, Exxon assumes a price of $55 a barrel for global crude. That's $5 below where Brent crude, the most important global benchmark, traded on Wednesday. It's about half of what Brent averaged between 2011 and the middle of last year.

The price of oil plunged in the second half of 2014 when it became apparent that production was outpacing global demand. The rise in U.S. production last year of 1.5 million barrels per day was t  (go to article)

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Bill Could Change Passing Laws On N.C. Roads

WFMY-TV -- If you've ever been stuck behind a slow moving vehicle on a two-lane highway in North Carolina, state lawmakers want to help you.

Representatives from the N.C. General Assembly have announced H.B. 60, the Passing Slow Moving Vehicles bill.

The bill is "an act to allow the driver of a vehicle to overtake and pass slower moving vehicles on portions of the highway which are marked by signs, markers, or markings placed by the Department of Transportation stating or clearly indicating that passing should not be attempted."  (go to article)

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Saudi Arabia: Don't blame us for oil's big plunge

CNN Money -- Saudi Arabia isn't a fan of the "conspiracy theories" surrounding the kingdom's oil policies.
Oil took a massive plunge from over $100 a barrel in July to under $50 in January. Saudi Arabia's refusal to cut production, especially when oil hit around $70 at Thanksgiving, raised eyebrows about the country's motives.
In the past, Saudi Arabia would respond to a supply glut like the current one by pumping less oil.
Energy analysts began to speculate that the Saudis were trying to kill off the North American shale revolution. Some shale operations are no longer profitable when oil falls below $50.
Theories claiming OPEC has a "war on shale" and that OPEC is dying are wrong, Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi said in a speech on Wednesday in Berlin.
"OPEC and Saudi Arabia have yet again been ma  (go to article)

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