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Early gift: Gas below $2 at some stations in 24 states

USA Today -- Just in time for a holiday road trip, gas prices in many places in middle of the country have dipped below $2 a gallon.  (go to article)

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Colonial Line 1 space rises on arbitrage for Gulf Coast CBOB

Platts -- Colonial Pipeline space strengthened Friday on a more attractive arbitrage to ship CBOB to the East Coast.

Space on Line 1, the gasoline pipeline linking Texas and North Carolina, was heard traded Friday afternoon at 18 cents/gal, up from 15 cents/gal on December 12. The trade reflects shipments of gasoline for Colonial's 71st cycle, for which products will be scheduled Monday.

Market players sometimes pay premiums for access to Line 1, which has been allocated every cycle for three years, including the 72nd, which was allocated on Friday.

Higher line space points to more desire to move blendstock from the Gulf Coast to take advantage of lower differentials there. Gulf Coast CBOB was assessed Friday at NYMEX January RBOB futures minus 26 cents/gal, a differential that has dropped six o  (go to article)

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Oil surplus offers storage profit hope

Financial Times -- Brent crude’s worst slump since the financial crisis amid a mounting oil surplus is set to boost demand for storage facilities and usher in a new era of profitable deals for the world’s biggest oil traders.

Relentless US production and Opec supplies above targets have coincided with a demand slowdown in Europe and Asia — boosting supplies and driving prices down by almost half since mid-June.

Demand growth in the coming months is expected to slow, and industry observers say the large crude overhang is likely to fill onshore storage facilities and offshore tankers across the globe.

The market is likely to “bump up against storage capacity”, said the International Energy Agency in its oil market report.

Assuming the Opec cartel maintains outp  (go to article)

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You can drink this car's exhaust

CNN Money -- The Toyota Mirai is a Hydrogen fuel cell powered car that emits 100% pure high quality H20.

VIDEO  (go to article)

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Canada slaps sanctions on Russian oil industry

Reuters -- OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada announced new sanctions against Russia on Friday, including additional restrictions on the export of technology used in the oil and gas industry, saying it was important to speak truth to power.

 (go to article)

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Holland woman who died in crash may have suffered medical emergency

MLive.com -- An 85-year-old Holland woman died Thursday, Dec. 18, after a crash on East 24th Street between Country Club and Waverly roads, police said.

Dolores Slikkers died at Holland Hospital after the 1:52 p.m. crash.

It is possible that Slikkers suffered a medical emergency before the crash occurred, police said.

Police said a 28-year-old Holland man, in a 2004 Honda, was driving west on 24th Street when he slowed to make a left turn into a private drive. Slikkers, driving a 2010 Nissan, was also headed west but was in the eastbound lane, within a passing zone.

As the 28-year-old man began to make a left turn, his Honda side-swiped the Nissan.  (go to article)

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Chrysler recalls 280,000 trucks in for axle failures

The Detroit News -- FCA US LLC said Friday it is recalling nearly 257,000 Dodge Ram pickups in the United States because a loose nut may cause the rear axle to seize.

The Auburn Hills unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said it is recalling 256,956 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 pickups built from January 2004 through August 2005. Chrysler dealers will install a retention feature to the pinion nut. The recall will begin Feb. 13. The recall in total covers 280,000 vehicles worldwide.
 (go to article)

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U.S. ends TARP with $15.3 billion profit

Money.CNN.com -- The U.S. government essentially closed the books on TARP with a $15.3 billion profit.
Treasury sold its remaining shares Friday in Ally Financial, its last remaining major stake from the $426 billion bailout of banks and the U.S. auto industry.

If GM and Chrysler had gone under, it would have cost an estimated $39 billion to $105 billion in lost tax revenues as well as assistance to the unemployed, according to a study from the Center for Auto Research. And the government also would have been on the hook for billions in promised pension payments to autoworkers.  (go to article)

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2 dead in explosion, fire at Oklahoma oil rig

Fuel Fix -- An explosion and fire early Friday morning killed two people and critically injured two others at an oil rig in southeastern Oklahoma.

Authorities said the explosion occurred at the rig about 2 miles west of Coalgate in a remote area of rural Coal County about 100 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.

Matt Skinner, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission that regulates the oil and gas industry, said no evacuations were required in the area and there were no reports that the explosion and fire caused environmental damage that would require subsequent cleanup.

Skinner said he didn’t know if the fire was still burning. Coal County Sheriff Bryan Jump, who is at the scene, was not immediately available for comment.

The state Medical Examiner’s Office identified the dead as Gary Keen  (go to article)

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Ohio Supreme Court sides with Toledo, home-rule cities

Toledo Blade --
COLUMBUS — In what could be a short-lived victory for traffic camera programs, the Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday narrowly upheld the way Toledo hears appeals of citations.

In a 4-3 decision, the high court found that an administrative hearing process does not unconstitutionally usurp the authority of Toledo Municipal Court. To get there, the court reaffirmed its 2008 ruling that cities have home-rule authority to impose civil fines through the camera programs.

That comes even as cities threaten to sue the state on home-rule grounds if Gov. John Kasich signs a bill passed by the General Assembly last week to impose restrictions on the programs that cities contend are tantamount to a practical ban.

The bill would require a police officer to be present to witness any violation caught by  (go to article)

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Putting KC’s Grand Boulevard on a slimming diet — and adding bikes Read more here: http://www.kansa

Kansas City Star -- “With these wide streets, you basically get a drag-racing effect,” said Eric Bunch, co-founder of the advocacy group BikeWalkKC. “You just drive fast from red light to red light.”  (go to article)

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Five signs America is falling in love with public transit

CNN -- Ridership aboard U.S. public transportation in 2014 is expected to top last year's figures. 2013 saw more riders on public transportation than any year since 1956, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

Denver's revamped Union Station transportation center helped increase the city's third-quarter light rail ridership by 6.3%, according to APTA. Bus riders increased by .75%.  (go to article)

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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....  (go to article)

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

Bloomberg News -- 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.  (go to article)

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Good Times From Texas to North Dakota May Turn Bad on Oil-Price Drop

Bloomberg -- Business at Chris Meyer’s Ace Hardware store in Cotulla is booming four years after oil companies began rolling into the dusty south Texas town, invigorating a once-stagnant economy.

“We were in a 17-year drought and now it’s raining,” Meyer said. “And we’re tickled to death that it’s raining.”

The forecast may be about to change.

While slumping crude and gasoline prices are projected to boost the nation’s economy by leaving more cash in consumers’ pockets, they also threaten to limit growth, tax revenue and job opportunities from Texas to North Dakota. By restraining new industry investment, the declines are set to subdue the most rapidly expanding U.S. regions.

“For oil producers, it means an adjustment in terms of expectations and a realignment in terms of capital-spending plans,” s  (go to article)

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Geneva’s Army of Oil Traders Embraces Profits a Crash Brings

Bloomberg -- Crude oil’s worst slump since the financial crisis means profits for Geneva’s army of traders.

After years of steady prices, the crash has brought back the volatility on which traders thrive. While the fall in benchmark Brent to five-year lows has rocked economies from Russia to Venezuela, the world’s biggest commodity trading houses, which buy and sell about a third or world’s oil from the Swiss city, are relishing the return to a bear market.

Lower prices have cut financing costs, provided an opportunity to lock in profits by storing fuels and heralded the return of big price swings that can help firms from Vitol Group to Trafigura Beheer BV generate higher returns.

“Commodity traders are in a much more optimistic mood these days,” Roland Rechtsteiner, a Zurich-based partner at Oliver  (go to article)

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Oil price wars: Who will be left standing? Live discussion

Financial Post -- Oil prices have crashed, falling more than $50 since the summer and that has triggered panic across the world. From companies putting them up for sales to hectic selling across equity markets from Toronto to Riyadh

But we have been here before, haven't we? It's not the first oil price crash markets have seen, and it won't be the last

But there are new factors: U.S. shale producers, rampant production from Canadian conventional and unconventionals, Russia using oil as a weapon and Saudi Arabia in less comfortable position than before to ride out low prices.

Predicting oil prices is a difficult business, but were you surprised the commodity has fallen by so much and so quickly?

Emad: I was extremely concerned by the oil market structure at the start of the year, with my target at $90 and  (go to article)

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Senate Approves New Auto Safety Chief

Associated Press (AP) Published in Product Design and Development -- The Senate confirmed a new administrator to lead the government's auto safety agency, which faces complaints that regulators bungled two high-profile recalls involving faulty ignition switches and exploding air bags.

Mark Rosekind, 59, a leading expert on human fatigue, was approved by voice vote to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a neglected but critically important agency that is widely considered to be understaffed and underfunded. The previous administrator, David Strickland, left in January.  (go to article)

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Treasury exits Ally, ends six-year auto bailout

Detroit News -- The U.S. Treasury on Friday ended its historic six-year intervention into the U.S. auto industry, as it sold its remaining 11.4 percent stake in Ally Financial Inc. The Detroit-based auto lender had received $17.2 billion in bailouts.

The Treasury said it sold its remaining 54.9 million shares at $23.25 of the auto lending and bank holding company, recovering $1.3 billion. The losses on the $85 billion auto industry were about $10 billion, but they saved hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“The auto industry financing program helped save the auto industry, more than 1 million jobs, and prevent a second Great Depression,” Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said. “Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, our economy has rebounded from the depths of the financial crisis and is now creating jobs at  (go to article)

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Toyota Aims to Bring Crash-Prevention Technology to Mainstream

Wall Street Journal -- TOKYO— Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it will introduce less-costly crash-prevention systems to most of the vehicles it sells in its biggest markets starting next year, in a bid to usher the new technology into the mainstream.

The Japanese auto maker will offer two crash-prevention technologies for new cars in the U.S., Japan and Europe by the end of 2017, said Moritaka Yoshida, a Toyota senior managing officer who oversees safety technologies.

Toyota said the new technologies use both a camera and radar to detect objects near the car and alert drivers. The technologies also can slow down or brake a vehicle automatically to prevent collisions.

The automotive industry has been working to develop so-called active technologies that help drivers prevent accidents or drive more safely.  (go to article)

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7 dream cars for the holidays

Yahoo -- If you’re dreaming of a shiny new car in the driveway this holiday season, dream big. To inspire, we've assembled a collection of mechanical sugar plums worthy of an informed auto-enthusiasts' wish list.

Consumer Reports' engineers and editors drive well over 100 new cars every year, and we’ve found many exotics don’t live up to the image. Here are seven dream machines that do, listed in in ascending order of price.

Ford Mustang Base MSRP range: $23,600-$41,600
Everyday sports car: BMW M235i
Base MSRP range: $32,100-$44,900
Uber sedan: Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec
Base MSRP range: $51,800-$103,200
Luxe family hauler: BMW X5
Base American powerhouse: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Base MSRP range: $54,000-$64,000MSRP range: $53,200-$69,100
Green game changer: Tesla Model S
 (go to article)

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Cheer up Iron Man: Tesla top 2015 Wall Street pick

CNBC -- Elon Musk has lost more than $1 billion on his Tesla holdings alone in the last month. But the inspiration for Hollywood's "Iron Man" may be a lot happier next year, if Wall Street analysts are right.
Tesla shares are due for a 30 percent comeback in the next 12 months based on the average analyst price target of $269.25 compiled by FactSet
 (go to article)

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Naimi: OPEC needs more support for output cutdown

Reuters -- Saudi Arabia's powerful oil minister said on Thursday that OPEC could not cut output without the support of other big producers and attempts to get them on board had not worked.

Ali al-Naimi said it was impossible for OPEC to cut alone to reverse the oil price slump—which he called temporary—when others were pumping more, saying that could lead to losing market share and with no guarantee of supporting prices.
 (go to article)

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Oil rallies to $60, heads for 4th weekly fall on glut

Reuters -- - Brent crude oil rose to around $60 a barrel on Friday, rallying from near a 5-1/2-year low as investors squared books ahead of the year-end festive break after six months of falling prices.

Oil prices were on track for a fourth straight week of declines after OPEC members last month decided against cutting production despite a huge global overhang of supply.

Brent and the U.S. crude oil benchmark have almost halved in value since June and many investors expect further falls unless supply tightens or demand picks up.  (go to article)

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Most steel fasteners safe on San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge: officials

Reuters --

By Michael Fleeman (Reuters) - The vast majority of steel rods and bolts holding together a new section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge are safe, state investigators said Thursday, despite earlier cracks in about 32 fasteners on the span, which replaced a section of the bridge lost in a 1989 earthquake.

A draft report to be presented to earthquake safety overseers on Friday shows that the rods and bolts that cracked had been weakened by sitting in puddles of rainwater for up to five years before they were tightened, but the remaining 2,200 connections had not been exposed to those conditions.

“The remaining ... high-strength steel rods used on the bridge can safely remain in service with continued inspection and maintenance,” the report said.

The report said the fasten  (go to article)

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In North Dakota, countdown looms for $5.3 billion oil tax break

Reuters -- BISMARCK, N.D. (Reuters) - Tumbling U.S. oil markets hit an important if obscure milestone on Thursday, closing for the first time at a price that could trigger a $5.3 billion, two-year tax break for North Dakota oil drillers as soon as next summer.

Under a decades-old law, the state at the heart of the U.S. shale oil boom would waive its 6.5 percent oil extraction tax once the average monthly price of benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude at Cushing, Oklahoma, falls below a certain threshold for five consecutive months.

For next year, that price is $55.08 per barrel. On Thursday, U.S. crude oil futures settled at $54.11 per barrel, the lowest close since May 2009 and the latest leg of a rout that has halved the price of crude since June.

It is unlikely that the clock would s  (go to article)

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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." ...  (go to article)

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P.E.I. looks to increase green power with Hydro-Québec deal

Canadian Press -- Ghiz, the Premier of P.E.I., unveiled his intentions to purchase up to 100MW of electricity from Hydro-Québec

Ghiz told Quebec Premier Couillard he’d like to establish a business relationship in terms of the future sale of hydroelectric power

This is a modest contract for Hydro-Québec, but Couillard said it’s an important to do business with other Canadian provinces

P.E.I. is in the process of buying a new cable linking the tiny island to NB to bolster electrical capacity

P.E.I. generates 30% of its energy through wind turbines and is looking to up the green quotient of its energy with hydro

A contract with P.E.I. combined with the recent deal with ON to supply hydro power in peak hours raised the profile of Hydro-Québec

The next step will be to give competitive rates to Newfoundland  (go to article)

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Oil jumps three percent to $63 as energy firms slash investments

Reuters -- Brent crude jumped 3% to above $63 on Thu, extending a rebound from 5-yr lows this week as oil's 6-mth price rout

Oil this week has almost halved since Jun as fast-growing U.S. shale output overwhelms demand

Signs that lower prices are threatening future production have given some traders pause. Oil prices were volatile on Wed, briefly spiking as much as 6% as players rushed to close short positions, before falling back

"investors favour support around $60. Lower investment in production could be felt in the market as early as the Q2 2015

Chevron has put a plan to drill for oil in the Beaufort Sea on indefinite hold, while Marathon cut its capital expenditure for next year by about 20%

Canadian oil producers also deepened cuts in 2015, as Husky, MEG and Penn West joined those hacking  (go to article)

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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  (go to article)

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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...  (go to article)

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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...  (go to article)

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‘There will be some blood': Will Canada’s oilpatch be able to withstand the price onslaught?

Financial Post -- There will be bloodletting and pain as the impact of low oil prices reverberates through the Canadian oilpatch, but the industry is entering the downturn from a position of strength, according to analysts.

“There will be some blood on the streets, but if companies can keep their cash to debt ratios down below three times or in some cases four times at least they are not facing a bankruptcy-type position,” said Jeremy Kaliel, executive director, institutional equity research at CIBC World Markets Inc.

The dramatic decline in oil prices has caught the industry off guard, leaving companies scrambling to cut capital expenditures and dividends and redrawing their 2015 plans.

The U.S. oil and gas industry is already feeling the heat as much of the shale boom was fuelled by a diet of cheap deb  (go to article)

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As winter hits, utilities, railroads guardedly optimistic about coal deliveries

Star Tribune -- WASHINGTON – Representatives of the power and rail industries expressed guarded optimism Thursday about coal deliveries needed to generate electricity for Minnesota this winter.

Speaking to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), officials from BNSF Railway, Minnesota Power and the Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator agreed that stockpiles of coal, which had been critically low at many electricity generating plants, have grown recently.

But they warned that unexpected bad weather or unanticipated shipping problems on the state’s overcrowded rail system could change that.

“We’ve got a stockpile that gets us into the coldest months of the winter,” Dave McMillan, Minnesota Power’s vice president of external affairs, told the Star Tribune after his FERC testimony. “But we nee  (go to article)

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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  (go to article)

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Oil Crash Exposes Shale Drillers in Risky Three-Way Bets

Bloomberg -- Tumbling oil prices have exposed a weakness in the insurance that some U.S. shale drillers bought to protect themselves against a crash.

At least six companies, including Pioneer Natural Resources and Noble Energy Inc., used a strategy known as a three-way collar that doesn’t guarantee a minimum price if crude falls below a certain level, according to company filings. While three-ways can be cheaper than other hedges, they can leave drillers exposed to steep declines.

“Producers are inherently bullish,” said Mike Corley, the founder of Mercatus Energy Advisors, a Houston-based firm that advises companies on hedging strategies. “It’s just the nature of the business. You’re not going to go drill holes in the ground if you think prices are going down.”

The three-way hedges risk exacerbatin  (go to article)

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Girling Duels Obama on Keystone Export Debate Amid Glut

Bloomberg -- Russ Girling’s Keystone XL saga is taking a new twist with a global glut of cheap oil.

The criticism the chief executive officer of TransCanada Corp. is increasingly confronting, including from President Barack Obama, is that the pipeline will just be a corridor for Canadian oil-sands crude to reach China. Girling’s answer is that the U.S. isn’t weaning itself off foreign oil anytime soon and that Gulf Coast refineries will be the buyers, not Asia.

The argument “that seems to have gotten traction is the notion that we’re going to export this oil through the United States to China,” Girling said yesterday in an interview at his Calgary office. “Whoever’s masterminding this notion, it’s all about fear-mongering and they’ve found a nerve that resonates.”

It appears to have resonated with t  (go to article)

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Oil price led by drop in consumption

NETRIGHT DAILY -- Missing from that analysis is the drop in consumption. In OECD nations, consumption of oil is down year over year as of July, from 45.9 million barrels of oil a day, to 45.7 million a day, a 0.35 percent drop.
Consumption was down the year before that, too, by 0.61 percent.
This is led by the continued slowdown in Europe and Japan, and don’t forget in China, too, which is not a part of the OECD. U.S. consumption was actually up, but not enough to offset the recession elsewhere.

 (go to article)

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Exclusive: New U.S. oil and gas well November permits tumble nearly 40 percent

Reuters -- (Reuters) - Plunging oil prices sparked a drop of almost 40 percent in new well permits issued across the United States in November, in a sudden pause in the growth of the U.S. shale oil and gas boom that started around 2007.

Data provided exclusively to Reuters on Tuesday by industry data firm Drilling Info Inc showed 4,520 new well permits were approved last month, down from 7,227 in October.

The pullback was a "very quick response" to U.S. crude prices, which settled on Tuesday at $66.88 CLc1, said Allen Gilmer, chief executive officer of Drilling Info.  (go to article)

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Oil plunges as market fails to find bottom

CNBC -- Oil futures fell sharply, failing to hold a rally for a second day and signaling traders that the selling is not over.

Oil traded wildly in a big wide 8 percent intraday swing, the day ahead of the expiration of the January futures contract at the Nymex. West Texas Intermediate futures for January were up as much as 4 percent before turning lower, to settle down 4.2 percent at $54.11 per barrel, a fresh five-year low. Brent was trading below $60 after being up 4 percent earlier in the day.

"We're in contango, and we have weak cash prices. The downward pressure as you get to expirations gets intense," said John Kilduff of Again Capital. "These are what bear markets look like. When you recall the bull markets of the past years, this is the same thing that happened on the upside."  (go to article)

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Texas is in danger of a recession

CNN Money -- Turmoil in the oil market could knock Texas into a recession.
The shale oil boom has been a blessing to Texas, making the state an economic standout during the past few years of ho-hum U.S. growth.

But oil's dramatic plunge below $55 a barrel is scaring the shale industry. Since some wells are unprofitable at lower prices, shale companies will be forced to dial back capital spending and cut jobs.

While cheap gas is likely to be a net positive for the U.S., Texas is poised to take a hit because of the pivotal role that oil plays in the state's economy.

"We think Texas will, at least, have a rough 2015 ahead, and is at risk of slipping into a regional recession," Michael Feroli, JPMorgan Chase chief U.S. economist, predicted Thursday.

 (go to article)

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How Buffett, Soros and Other Billionaires Play Oil

MSN Money -- "Oil prices fell Thursday, hitting an eight-month low, as markets continued to react to disappointing economic news across the globe."

The line could easily have come from virtually any news clipping out this week. It's from a CNNMoney article dated June 21, 2012.

The market's got a bad short-term memory. As far as falling oil prices go, well, we've seen this all before -- and billionaire investors including Warren Buffett and George Soros have seen it before and know how to play it.
 (go to article)

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Legal Standing May Be Key to Nebraska Court's Keystone XL Case

Reuters -- The controversial Keystone XL pipeline has a major hurdle to cross in the Nebraska State Supreme Court, which may rule as soon as Friday, and one aspect of the case there has been somewhat overlooked.

A ruling in Keystone's favor would clear the way for the White House to approve or reject the pipeline, which proponents say would create thousands of jobs. A ruling against would send the TransCanada Corp plan into a logistical tailspin.

The Nebraska case, which dates back to 2012, centers on who in the state government should decide the pipeline's path.

Earlier this year, a Nebraska district court ruled in favor of three landowners who challenged a 2012 law empowering Nebraska's governor to make that decision.

The court reasoned that the law violated the state's constitution by usurping  (go to article)

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Rise of the car-sharing apps poses threat to auto sector

news.yahoo.com -- LONDON (Reuters) - The humble smartphone could throw a spanner in the works of the car sector's post-crisis turnaround, with the big manufacturers facing a long-term threat from apps that make it easier and cheaper to share or hire vehicles than to buy them.

Investor sentiment is on a knife edge. Car sales are back in recovery mode in most major European markets, yet the fragility of the turnaround could yet be exposed by another economic slowdown while investors have flagged the potential danger posed by web-based services further down the road.

The rise of the likes of car hire app Zipcar and car-pooling rival BlaBlaCar are expected to present new challenges to mass-market carmakers such as Ford, GM, Volvo, Renault and Volkswagen while presenting fresh opportunities for existing rental  (go to article)

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Exxon Mobil Shows Why U.S. Oil Output Rises as Prices Plunge

Bloomberg -- Crude oil production from U.S. wells is poised to approach a 42-year record next year as drillers ignore the recent decline in price pointing them in the opposite direction.

U.S. energy producers plan to pump more crude in 2015 as declining equipment costs and enhanced drilling techniques more than offset the collapse in oil markets, said Troy Eckard, whose Eckard Global LLC owns stakes in more than 260 North Dakota shale wells.

Oil companies, while trimming 2015 budgets to cope with the lowest crude prices in five years, are also shifting their focus to their most-prolific, lowest-cost fields, which means extracting more oil with fewer drilling rigs, said Goldman Sachs Group. Global giant Exxon Mobil, the largest U.S. energy company, will increase oil production next year by the biggest  (go to article)

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LA To San Fran In 35 Minutes? Hyperloop CEO Says Speed Tube Could Become Reality

losangelescbslocal.com -- PLAYA VISTA (CBSLA.com) — It takes about six hours to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco – depending on your speed – and more than an hour to fly.
But in the future, the trip may take a matter of minutes.
Designers of the speed tube called Hyperloop say they are one step closer to making that happen.
Tesla founder Elon Musk says the technology is being developed with the help of about 25 UCLA graduate architecture students at a facility in Playa Vista.
Hyperloop has teamed up with the students to create the tube technology, designed to connect cities less than 300 miles apart.
“They look at this like a blank sheet of paper on which they can realize their fantasies,” UCLA professor Craig Hodgetts said.
On top of pylons is a hovering capsule inside a low-pressurized tube, which can reac  (go to article)

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FP Live Chat Friday, Dec. 19 at 11am ET: Oil price wars — Who will be left standing?

Financial Post -- Crude oil prices plummeted $50 over the past few months, as a heady mix of geopolitical and economic factors have conspired to keep crude oil production high

OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, Russia and producers in N Am refuse to cut production, fearing the loss of market share

How will this showdown end, and who will be left standing

To answer these and other questions, join Yadullah Hussain, FP Energy Editor and an international panel on Dec 19, Fri, at 11am ET

The panellists are:
Dinara Millington, VP, Canadian Energy Research Institute

Robin Mills, energy consultant, based in Dubai, UAE. Author of The Myth of The Oil Crisis

Emad Mostaque, strategist, based in London, UK

To participate, simply ask your questions below when the session begins or email fpenergy@nationalpost.com

In the m  (go to article)

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Driver who stopped for ducks gets jail, 10-year driving ban

USA Today -- The woman who stopped her car in the left lane of a Montreal area highway to herd ducklings to safety, which led to the death of a motorcyclist and his teen daughter, will not spend the rest of her life in prison, Canadian media outlets report.

Emma Czornobaj, 26, was sentenced Thursday to 90 days in jail, no driving for 10 years and 240 hours of community service. She will report to jail on Jan. 10, serving out her sentence on the weekends, the Montreal Gazette, CTV News and CBC News report.

Though the maximum sentences for the crimes for which Czornobaj has been convicted are life in prison, thousands of people signed petitions asking for leniency for Czornobaj. The family of motorcyclist Andre Roy, then 50, and Jessie Roy, 16, who rode on the back of the motorcycle, ...  (go to article)

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Warning: Don't Put Leaves In Bike Lanes

WFMY-TV -- Here's a warning about something you probably never think about, that's creating a hazard to everyone on the roads.

The fallen leaves you rake to the edge of the street or put in the bike lane can be hazardous to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
 (go to article)

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Oil resumes slide after brief rebound on short-covering

Yahoo Finance -- NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global crude prices fell again on Thursday, a day after a short-covering rally, as traders placed new bets that the market would resume a six-month rout on worries about a supply glut.

In early trade, oil extended gains from the previous session, when short-covering lifted prices more than $3 (2 pounds) a barrel.

But in late morning trade in New York, benchmark Brent and U.S. crude fell more than $1 a barrel to session lows. They then retraced some losses, with Brent down around $60 a barrel while U.S. crude was down near $55.

"We're continuing to search for a bottom, and might even see another significant drop before the year-end," said Gene McGillian, an analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

Traders also cited a Bloomberg report that a Nigerian po  (go to article)

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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.  (go to article)

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