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Sunday, December 21, 2014

45
votes
Oil investors can’t seem to pick the bottom

FINANCIAL POST-Bloomberg News -- Investors betting on a rebound in oil prices are nothing if not tenacious.

They have poured the most money in more than four years into exchange-traded products that track oil as prices fell 18 percent this month. It’s the third consecutive month that the four biggest U.S. funds have received money, during which time futures have plunged 41 percent.

“It’s a testament that after such a wild selloff people are more and more eager to step in and wait for this eventual rebound,” said Stoyan Bojinov, a Chicago-based analyst at ETF Database. “Oil looked cheap a month ago and it’s even cheaper today, that’s why we continue to see these inflows.”

Oil prices have tumbled by half since June amid surging production and slower than expected demand growth. Output in the U.S. is the highest in...  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
943 Comments

45
votes
Getting a new car? A few tips are in order

Star Tribune -- “Oh what fun it is to ride” intones the mellifluous voice in the holiday commercial for Mercedes-Benz. We’ve all seen the “December to Remember” TV commercials that make us simple folks wonder, “Why didn’t I think of giving my spouse five years of car payments for the holidays?”

The holiday auto buying promotions do work, said Scott Lambert, executive vice president of the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association. “Years ago, the holiday time was slow, but I give Lexus a lot of credit for changing that,” he said. “It must work because all the manufacturers have holiday promotions now. It’s generally a good time of year, and with gas prices down, that’s helping too.”

I’ve never thought of giving anyone a new vehicle for Christmas. I don’t travel in the circle of people who can. I don’t even tra  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
1175 Comments

43
votes
Your car's hidden 'black box' and how to keep it private

Fox News -- Most commercial airplanes have an indestructible flight recorder known as a "black box” — even though the casing is actually bright orange — that records information from the flight computers. Another box records cockpit audio and other sources around the plane. In the event of a crash, investigators can recover the black boxes and find out exactly what happened.

Cars can have black boxes, too. In fact, it's a good bet your current car has one.

(...)

The information includes vehicle speed, throttle position, airbag deployment times, whether the brakes were applied, whether seat belts were worn, engine speed, steering angles and more.  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
275 Comments

42
votes
US says traffic deaths fell 3 percent in 2013

The Charlotte Observer -- The number of traffic deaths nationwide dropped about 3 percent last year, and the rate of deaths per 100 million miles traveled tied a record low, according to government statistics.

But the number of people killed on the roads rose in two categories: Crashes involving big trucks and bicycles.

A total of 32,719 people died in U.S. crashes in 2013, down from 33,782 in 2012, according to figures compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That's about 90 deaths per day, compared with 92 in 2012.

People died at a rate of 1.1 per 100 million miles driven, tying a record low set in 2011. Deaths caused by drunken and distracted drivers also fell.
 (read more)

Submitted Today By:
543 Comments

40
votes
How Long Can the U.S. Oil Boom Last?

National Geographic -- The long-term problem for oil frackers isn't just low prices. It's low reserves.

Now that oil prices have dropped to levels not seen since 2009, helped by a flood of oil flowing from hydraulic fracturing or fracking wells in North Dakota and Texas, it's time to ask the question: How long can the U.S. oil boom last?

In the short term, the price drop threatens profits from fracking, which is more expensive than conventional drilling. Sure enough, permit applications to drill oil and gas wells in the U.S declined almost 40 percent in November.

But in the long term, the U.S. oil boom faces an even more serious constraint: Though daily production now rivals Saudi Arabia's, it's coming from underground reserves that are a small fraction of the ones in the Middle East.

 (read more)

Submitted Today By:
459 Comments

Saturday, December 20, 2014

50
votes
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)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1431 Comments

49
votes
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)

Submitted Yesterday By:
572 Comments

48
votes
How oil’s decline could spatter North Dakota

FuelFix.com-Houston 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.

PRICE TRIGGERS

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)

Submitted Yesterday By:
72 Comments

48
votes
NHTSA promotes 'SaferRide' mobile app to reduce drunk driving

GasBuddy Blog -- With the holidays approaching and festivities and office parties filling our calendars, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has kicked off its annual   “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” holiday crackdown on drunk driving with a new mobile app to help people who have been drinking get a safe ride home. “We will continue to be relentless in our effort to curb drunk driving because each life is precious,” said NHTSA's Anthony Foxx. “Too many lives are still being cut far too short because of drunk driving. We can stop these tragedies by making the decision not to allow ourselves or our loved ones to get behind the wheel after drinking.”NHTSA’s new SaferRide app will help keep drunk drivers off our roads by allowing users to call a taxi or a friend and by identifying their location so they can be picked up. The app is available now for Android devices on Google Play. ...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
2251 Comments

47
votes
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)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1133 Comments

Friday, December 19, 2014

53
votes
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)

Submitted Dec 19, 2014 By:
1759 Comments

45
votes
Chicago Tribune studies city's red light system more than city itself

GasBuddy Blog -- According to a significant investigative piece by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago's massive red light system fails to deliver on the touted benefits long claimed by Chicago's City Hall.The Tribune study included several well respected traffic engineers, being led by Dominique Lord, an associate professor at the Texas A&M University's Zachry Department of Civil Engineering.When I read the study myself it became obvious that the study was so extensive it appeared Chicago's City Hall had little to fight it with, resorting to flawed studies, anecdotal evidence, and other long standing myths....  (read more)

Submitted Dec 19, 2014 By:
2822 Comments

45
votes
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)

Submitted Dec 19, 2014 By:
768 Comments

44
votes
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)

Submitted Dec 19, 2014 By:
167 Comments

44
votes
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)

Submitted Dec 19, 2014 By:
1060 Comments

Thursday, December 18, 2014

54
votes
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:
479 Comments

53
votes
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:
1818 Comments

47
votes
Marathon Oil will cut more than $1B from 2015 budget

FuelFix.com-Houston 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:
1470 Comments

46
votes
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:
1653 Comments

45
votes
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:
1079 Comments

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

41
votes
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:
42 Comments

39
votes
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:
82 Comments

39
votes
'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:
1478 Comments

39
votes
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:
1472 Comments

38
votes
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:
46 Comments