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Massive fire engulfs Mexican oil rig, 4 dead

AP -- MEXICO CITY (AP) - A massive ball of flames engulfed an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, killing four people and sending terrified workers jumping into the sea.

State-run oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said there was no evidence yet of a major oil spill following the blast, which injured 16 workers, two seriously, and forced the evacuation of 300.

Fleets of helicopters ferried workers with bandaged hands and faces, and burn marks on their overalls to the nearby city of Ciudad del Carmen, where crowds of concerned relatives of oil workers thronged outside hospitals.

A survivor of the blaze on the shallow-water Abkatun Permanente platform in the Campeche Sound said workers "jumped into the sea out of desperation and panic."

"There was nothing you could do but  (go to article)

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Los Angeles CARBOB differential drops as imports hit 4.5-year high

Platts -- The Los Angeles CARBOB differential slipped slightly Wednesday after new data showed imports reached a 4.5-year high as traders look to offset lost production from ExxonMobil's Torrance refinery.

Platts assessed the major California-specific gasoline grade at NYMEX May RBOB futures plus 14.75 cents/gal. Market sources said incoming cargoes combined with healthy stocks to offset production loss from Torrance, a 155,000 b/d Los Angeles-area refinery hit by fire that shut its fluid catalytic cracker February 18.

"It is a gas-making machine," one trader said. "But it's hard to tell what they are actually able to make, except a ton of VGO with their cat being down."

Another market source noted the market has dropped in a month's span from plus 48 cents/gal to a support level in the mid-teens  (go to article)

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Calculate how Mich gas prices would change under Prop 1

MLive -- One of the most complicated parts of Proposal 1 is is the way gasoline is taxed.

If Prop 1 is passed, Michigan's 6 percent sales tax would be replaced with a higher flat tax on each gallon.

Above is a calculator (see article) which shows you the estimated changes to the price of a gallon of unleaded, regular fuel.

Also, check out a calculator for the proposed increase of the state's sales tax from 6 to 7 percent.

A majority of Michigan voters need to approve the sales tax increase. If passed, the proposal would also trigger 10 other laws, which include changing how gas is taxed.

Supporters of Proposal 1 say Michigan motorists pay $357 million in "unnecessary repairs" because of poor road conditions, which could be decreased if roads are repaired. Opponents, however, say there is mone  (go to article)

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GM to earn $350 mln over three years from 4G technology in cars-CFO

Yahoo finance -- General Motors Co will generate $350 million in improved profit over the three years to 2018 from its rollout of 4G LTE mobile broadband in its cars and trucks, the No. 1 U.S. automaker's chief financial officer said on Wednesday.

Chuck Stevens, speaking at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch conference, called GM's OnStar 4G LTE connection an "untapped, under-appreciated opportunity."

4G LTE is a wireless connection that allows faster flow of data and developing better in-car technology is critical to automakers like GM to attract younger, tech-savvy buyers.

"Based on our plans today, which are still in the early stages of really taking advantage of this technology, we expect to see $350 million of profit improvement between now and 2018 specific to 4G LTE and in our view that's just the b  (go to article)

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Volvo paint. Helping cyclists to stand out at night.

abc7 -- Car giant Volvo is turning in a slightly different direction for its next project, it's called Life Paint.

It's a highly reflective spray you can apply to your bicycle and your clothes. Drivers can't miss it. It shines a bright white color whenever light hits it. The spray is invisible and washes off. Volvo created the product and is now testing it in England, where 19,000 bikers were killed or injured in 2013. If it does well there, Volvo plans to sell it in America and throughout the world.  (go to article)

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Nearly 437,000 barrels of volatile Bakken Shale crude oil per day may pass through Ohio on trains

BOB DOWNING | The Akron Beacon Journal -- Ohioans have known for some time that numerous trains carrying highly volatile Bakken Shale crude oil pass through their neighborhoods each day en route to East Coast refineries.

What they didn’t know, until Tuesday, was a number: as many as 437,000 barrels per day.  (go to article)

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Iran has a little surprise for oil markets that’s ready to ship

Bloomberg News -- Lifting oil sanctions on Iran could hit global markets long before the nation starts pumping more crude.

$20 oil could become a reality: The looming storage crisis explained Markus Schreiber/AP PhotoThere’s the makings of a crisis swirling in North America’s oil-storage tanks, and the next few months will determine whether it’s a minor annoyance, or a major blow.
 (go to article)

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4 dead, 16 hurt in oil platform fire in Gulf of Mexico

USA Today -- At least four people were killed and 16 workers injured when a fire erupted early Wednesday on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico belonging to Mexico's state petroleum giant Pemex, the company said in a statement.

The company said one of those who died when the fire broke out at dawn at the Abkatun Permanente platform was a contractor for the Mexican oil services company Cotemar.

Pemex said on Twitter that it was using eight firefighting boats to battle the blaze.

Two of the injured were in serious condition and 300 workers were evacuated from the Abkatun platform, located in the Campeche Sound, near the coast of the states of Campeche and Tabasco.
The Abkatun-Pol-Chuc offshore oilfields, where the dewatering and pumping platform is located, produced under 300,000 barrels per day in  (go to article)

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Why oil’s not hitting lows? ‘Phenomenal’ demand

CNBC -- As concerns about the glut of oil in the world continues to weigh, questions have been raised over why the price of the crucial commodity hasn't fallen even further. For one analyst, the answer comes down to "phenomenal" demand.

Oil was trading slightly higher Wednesday, with Brent crude around $55.60 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate at $47.80. Both are some way off their year-to-date lows of around $46 and $42 respectively in March.

This comes despite the possibility of a last-minute deal over Iran's nuclear program, which has pushed prices lower over recent days amid expectations that an agreement would see an influx of Iranian crude on the market.

However, Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects, argued that oil demand was actually robust, and would likely prevent th  (go to article)

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Just what's in summer gas blend and why is it more expensive at the pump?

Orange County Register -- Beginning today, the gasoline you pump into your car will be a bit different, and air-quality officials say it will help us breathe a bit easier.

The summer blend is refined to have less of the volatile hydrocarbon chemicals, such as butane and pentane. It will thus evaporate less than the winter blends when under similar conditions.
 (go to article)

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Toronto sinkhole swallows Jaguar

CBC News -- A Toronto driver was forced to escape through a car window after his Jaguar was partially swallowed by a sinkhole early Wednesday.

Mario Tavares told CBC News he pulled into the parking lot of a building he owns near the intersection of Todd Bayliss Boulevard and Industry Street near Black Creek Drive and Eglinton Avenue West.

Tavares said shortly after pulling into the parking lot, the pavement gave way beneath his car, which sank in the soft dirt up to its windows. The door wouldn't open, forcing him to escape through the car window and onto the hood. No one was hurt in the incident.

It's believed the sinkhole was caused by a watermain break. A nearby printing business is closed for the day.

Metrolinx has confirmed the sinkhole is not related to the construction in the area for th  (go to article)

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Somerset, KY: City-run gas station offers lowest price in town

GasBuddy Blog -- I don’t know if you remember the hubbub but it’s worth revisiting.  Last year we called attention to the town of Somerset, KY where local officials unanimously approved turning a government-owned fuel storage facility into a government-run gas station.   https://blog.gasbuddy.com/posts/Somerset-KY-says-it-will-sell-its-own-gasoline-to-the-public/1715-576203-2503.aspx They had good reasons.  In Kentucky last year at this time prices were still climbing just as they did across the rest of the country.  The statewide average was $3.54 in late March; and by April it had climbed to $3.80 and a number of stations were abovc $4 per gal. Local residents complained that Somerset had become ‘an island of high gas prices’ that were often 20 to 30 cents/gal. higher than neighboring towns. ...  (go to article)

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Oil rallies as Iran nuclear talks drag on, overshadowing supply concerns

Reuters -- LONDON (Reuters) - Brent crude oil futures reversed early losses to rally to $55.90 a barrel on Wednesday, as talks over Iran's nuclear programme continued, curbing expectations of an immediate deal that would allow Iranian crude on to the market.

The Iran talks overshadowed a sharp rise in crude oil stocks in the United States, where inventories rose by 4.8 million barrels to 471.4 million barrels in the week to March 27, according to the United States Energy Information Agency (EIA). [EIA/S]

Brent crude for May delivery (LCOc1) was up 80 cents at $55.91 a barrel by 1445 GMT, after earlier touching a session low of $54.70.

U.S. crude for May delivery (CLc1) was trading 97 cents higher at $48.57 a barrel.
 (go to article)

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U.S. Oil Imports From OPEC Have Plunged to a 28-Year Low

www.bloomberg.com -- America is the world's biggest oil customer, and OPEC is losing its business—fast.

U.S. imports of oil and petroleum products from OPEC have fallen to a 28-year low, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. The U.S. is pumping more of its own oil, and relying less on OPEC imports than any time since April 1987.
 (go to article)

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Crude inventories rise again, gasoline inventories continue dropping

GasBuddy Blog -- The Energy Information Administration released its weekly report today on the status of petroleum inventories in the United States.

Here are some highlights:

CRUDE INVENTORIES:
Crude oil inventories increased by 4.8 million barrels to a total of 471.4 million barrels. At 471.4 million barrels, inventories are 91.4 million barrels above last year (24.0%) and are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

GASOLINE INVENTORIES:
Gasoline inventories decreased by 4.3 million barrels to 229.1 million barrels. At 229.1 million barrels, inventories are up 13.5 million barrels, or 6.3% higher than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (-1.7mb); Midwest (+0.4mb); Gulf Coast (-2.3mb); Rockies (-0.2mb); and West Coast (-0.5mb). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this informatio  (go to article)

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GM betting on fuel efficiency despite low oil cost

CNBC -- Consumers might be saving plenty at the pump thanks to the low cost of crude, but General Motors is not abandoning its commitment to fuel efficiency, GM North America President Mark Reuss said Wednesday.

"Anybody who plans on a long-lead capital intensive business for episodic oil price and gas price fluctuation is at risk," he said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "What we like to do is look at real, permanent changes in societal trends around conservation, fuel economy, electrification."

Reuss said the Cadillac CT6, which GM unveiled at the New York International Show on Tuesday, embodies that strategy.

The car is the largest scale application of the company's new approach to using a mix of steel, aluminum and other materials to build vehicles light enough to meet tougher fuel efficiency stand  (go to article)

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Why gas prices in California are so much higher than elsewhere in U.S.

Los Angeles times -- Californians are used to gyrating gas prices, but the latest swing from the lowest in years to nearly a dollar above the national average is leaving drivers in a tizzy.

Some are accusing oil companies of manipulating prices. The industry blames an explosion and a strike at two refineries. Academics say it's structural — the unique way California gets and sells gas.

They may all be partially right.

On Jan. 30, Californians paid an average of $2.43 for a gallon of gasoline, the lowest since May 2009, according to fuel tracking group GasBuddy.com. It shot up 93 cents in a month and has since been fluctuating around $3.20, nearly 80 cents more than the national average.  (go to article)

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Forget Iran and Yemen, this new major geopolitical event could be bullish for oil markets

Financial Post -- While oil traders believe a potential deal between Iran and global powers could be bearish for markets as Tehran could unleash 35 million barrels of oil currently sitting in storage, Citibank believes the elections in Nigeria “seem to forebode some bullish risk in markets.”  (go to article)

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U.S. may skirt oil storage crisis as drivers hit the road

Reuters -- NEW YORK – A month ago, it seemed inevitable: a massive global oversupply of crude oil production would overwhelm storage tanks in Oklahoma and fill supertankers off Singapore.

Now, there are growing signs that the U.S. oil market can avoid the doomsday scenario in which it runs out of room to stockpile surplus crude,  (go to article)

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Idaho Senate rejects transportation bill that would shift taxes

The Spokesman-Review -- BOISE – Sweeping legislation to remove Idaho’s sales tax from groceries, lower top income tax rates and raise the gas tax went down to unanimous defeat in the Idaho Senate on Tuesday, just a day after passing the House.

“It appears that the majority of the Idaho Senate is not inclined to … support the legislation,” Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, announced. “It will not be reconsidered this session.”

The Senate agreed unanimously to return the bill to the Senate Transportation Committee, which had sent it out to the full Senate just an hour earlier on a 7-2 vote with no recommendation. Davis said the move to kill the bill was designed to “shift the focus to other transportation solutions.”

 (go to article)

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Americans are not spending their gas savings

CNN Money -- Americans are saving hundreds on low gas prices this year.

The Obama administration estimates the typical American household will save $750 this year from a discount at the pump. But are they spending that money?

The short answer: No. Most people are pocketing the gas savings. While there are a few signs that families are eating out more, the big deluge of spending that many predicted hasn't happened yet.  (go to article)

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Alleged Uber burglar: I'm a friend of your roommate

USA Today -- One Denver homeowner was shocked to find a man allegedly trying to break into her home one afternoon. She was even more surprised to learn that man was her roommate's Uber driver, who had just dropped her off at the airport.

VIDEO  (go to article)

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Cheap oil prices chop jobs by thousands

USA Today -- Planned oil industry layoffs in the U.S. are approaching 100,000 in the past four months with more likely to come.

Oil-producing states such as North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana are catching the brunt of the cutbacks just as consumers are enjoying cheaper gasoline prices brought on by the 55% drop in crude oil prices since last June.

"The entire Midwest from Texas to North Dakota is really feeling the effects," says Moody's Analytics economist Aaron Smith.

About 91,000 energy-related job cuts have been made public since early December, says Continental Resources, the Oklahoma City-based oil producer, which has been tracking companies' layoff announcements by the week. They came from oil exploration and production companies, oilfield services companies and manufacturers, such  (go to article)

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Roads proposal losing big in latest EPIC-MRA poll

Detroit Free Press -- If the election were held today, the proposal to raise Michigan's sales tax to fix the state's crumbling roads and bridges, among other things, would go down by a huge 3-1 margin, according to a new poll.

While the results of the poll by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA represents a huge pothole for Gov. Rick Snyder and other proponents of the bill, supporters of the 1% increase in the sales tax — to 7% from 6% — point to plenty of other proposals that have been way down in the polls in the weeks leading up to an election that end up passing with significant support.

But they'll have a long slog to achieve a victory on May 5, according to the poll of 600 people done over the weekend, from Saturday through Monday: About 66% of respondents said they will vote no on the roads proposal, while only 24%  (go to article)

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Brent near $55 as Iran talks extend beyond deadline

CNBC --

Brent crude oil futures were marginally positive near $55 a barrel on Wednesday as traders speculated that a last-minute deal over Iran's nuclear program would be reached, opening the way for more Iranian crude to come into world markets.

Talks between Iran and six world powers to settle a dispute around Tehran's nuclear program extended beyond a Tuesday deadline.

Efforts to reach a framework deal were scheduled to continue on Wednesday morning in the Swiss city of Lausanne.

Read MoreIran's nuclear deal and how it could affect oil

Brent crude for May delivery was up 15 cents at $55.26 a barrel by 6:52 a.m. EDT (1152 GMT).

U.S. crude for May delivery was trading 25 cents lower at $47.35 a barrel.
 (go to article)

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Oil in for a whacking on Iran deal

CNBC -- Negotiators may have missed Tuesday's deadline, but they could still reach a deal to lift sanctions on Iranian oil exports today, which would send prices further south, analysts say.

"An agreement would trigger an instant price dip for Brent oil, but of no more than $5," said IHS Energy Insight vice president Victor Shum said by phone. While "a deal would be a breakthrough, it will only add to the supply glut in the oil markets and, potentially, push Brent towards $30 a barrel."

Negotiators from Iran and six world powers on Tehran's nuclear program failed to meet a deadline on Tuesday that would have paved the way to lift United Nations sanctions on Iranian oil exports. But talks will continue in Switzerland today.

Brent oil prices slipped in Asia on Wednesday morning amid speculation  (go to article)

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North Dakota's new oil train safety checks seen missing risks

Reuter -- New regulations to cap vapor pressure of North Dakota crude fail to account for how it behaves in transit, according to industry experts, raising doubts about whether the state's much-anticipated rules will make oil train shipments safer.

High vapor pressure has been identified as a possible factor in the fireball explosions witnessed after oil train derailments in Illinois and West Virginia in recent weeks.

For over a year, federal officials have warned that crude from North Dakota's Bakken shale oilfields contains a cocktail of explosive gas - known in the industry as 'light ends.'

The new rules, which take effect on April 1, aim to contain dangers by spot-checking the vapor pressure of crude before loading and capping it at 13.7 pounds per square inch (psi) - about  (go to article)

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Speed limit increasing to 80 mph Wednesday in South Dakota

Fargo Moorhead Forum -- WATERTOWN, S.D. – With the speed limit on interstates in South Dakota going up to 80 mph Wednesday, Stone’s Truck Stop office manager Donna Schmidt said the surprise decision by this past session’s legislators hasn’t generated a lot of talk at the station just off of Interstate 29 in Watertown.  (go to article)

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AP Exclusive: Big rigs often go faster than tires can handle

Sentinel-Tribune-AP -- Many tractor-trailers on the nation's roads are driven faster than the 75 mph their tires are designed to handle, a practice that has been linked to wrecks and blowouts but has largely escaped the attention of highway officials.

Nearly all truck tires have been built for a maximum sustained speed of 75 mph since the middle of last decade, when drivers across the vast majority of the U.S. were allowed to go no faster than 65 or 70 mph.

But 14 states, mainly west of the Mississippi River, now have speed limits of 75, 80, even 85 mph in part of Texas. Some of those states acted without consulting the tire industry.

Safety advocates and tire experts say that habitually driving faster than a tire's rated speed can generate excessive heat that damages the rubber, with potentially catastrophic  (go to article)

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Death toll rises to 14 in Mexico gas tanker explosion

TwinCities.com-PIONEER PRESS-AP -- The death toll in a gasoline tanker truck explosion in southeastern Mexico rose to 14 on Tuesday, the result of an attempted theft of fuel in an area that authorities say has a long reputation for roadside thefts.

Tabasco state prosecutor Fernando Valenzuela Pernas said that while investigators had found no evidence someone intentionally ignited the gasoline after the truck crashed last Thursday, people did break through the police perimeter and then chased off firefighters so they could steal gasoline.

"The stretch from Lagartero to Palo Mulato historically has been an area of robbery and assault on commercial vehicles and passengers, including a time in which they put oil on the highway to get vehicles to run off the road," Valenzuela said Monday. "It's not something recent."

 (go to article)

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Grandson of Getty oil founder J. Paul Getty found dead in Los Angeles home

The Straits Times -- The grandson of billionaire Getty oil founder J. Paul Getty was found dead on Tuesday afternoon at his home in Los Angeles, his parents confirmed in a statement through a family spokesman.

Mr Andrew Getty's parents, Ann and Gordon, confirmed the 47-year-old's death in the statement.

It said the family was requesting privacy during "this extremely difficult time" and that further details would be released as they become available.  (go to article)

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Oil prices edge lower as Iran talks extend beyond deadline

Reuters -- Oil futures edged lower on Wednesday amid speculation that a last-minute deal over Iran's nuclear program would be reached that could allow more Iranian crude onto world markets.

Talks between Iran and six world powers to settle a dispute around Tehran's nuclear program extended beyond a Tuesday deadline, as the parties edged towards a deal but failed to agree to crucial details such as the lifting of U.N. sanctions.

Efforts to reach a framework deal were scheduled to continue on Wednesday in the Swiss city of Lausanne.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a general agreement had been reached over all key aspects of a future deal, TASS news agency quoted him as saying. A diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, later denied that an agreement had been reached.  (go to article)

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Want a Toyota Mirai Fuel-Cell Car? You Might Wait Until 2018

WSJ -- oyota Motor Corp.’s fuel-cell car Mirai, which runs on hydrogen and emits just water and heat, has attracted more demand than the auto maker had initially expected. In fact, customers in Japan putting in orders today should expect to wait three years before the car is delivered, Toyota said.

“The Mirai contains many new technologies. We are launching cautiously by thoroughly manufacturing each and every car to ensure a high level of quality, so the production volume is limited,” Toyota said in a statement on its website last week, apologizing for the delivery delay.

Toyota started selling the car in December in Japan. As of January, it had received 1,500 orders, 60% of those from governments and companies and the rest from individuals, said Toyota spokeswoman Kayo Doi. Most of the indivi  (go to article)

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U.S. closes probe into 240,000 diesel VW vehicles

Detroit News -- he National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations said Tuesday it is closing a nearly 5-year-old investigation into 241,000 diesel powered Volkswagen vehicles without demanding a recall.

The agency said it was closing the probe into the 2009-12 Jetta, Golf, Touareg, Audi A3 and Q7 TDI clean diesel vehicles after nearly 800 complaints about high-pressure fuel pump failures causing contamination of the fuel system. VW in 2013 agreed to voluntarily install devices designed to prevent owners from misfueling their diesel vehicles.

NHTSA opened the probe in 2010 and upgraded it in February 2011 to an engineering analysis after 160 complaints. NHTSA said VW has not identified any design or manufacturing defects in the pumps and said they “were designed, tested and approved for use in the Unite  (go to article)

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Tom Steyer wants ‘answers’ for California gas price spike

Haynesville.com -- When California lawmakers met last week to begin asking questions about the recent rise in gasoline prices, Tom Steyer took notice.

Steyer, the billionaire environmental activist and Democratic mega-donor, signed his name to a letter Monday sharing his appreciation for the Senate’s preliminary probe into why gas prices rose by more than $1 a gallon in early March.

Using one of his signature phrases, Steyer told Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and colleagues that such inquiries are vital to giving consumers a “fair shake” at the pump.

Steyer and consumer advocates believe the market is rigged to benefit an oligopoly. The rules, they wrote, need to be changed to benefit consumers.

“Unfortunately,” the letter states, “the hearing raised more questions than it answered because those  (go to article)

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Exxon Mobil starts production at its new deepwater project in the Gulf

Fuel Fix -- Exxon Mobil Corp. said Monday it had begun producing from its Hadrian South Gulf of Mexico project.

Total production of the project is expected to reach about 300 million cubic feet of gas and 3,000 barrels of liquids per day from two wells. The well is located about 230 miles offshore and in about 7,650 feet of water.

First production comes after a discovery well was drilled in 2008 and an appraisal well was completed in 2009.

Exxon operates the Hadrian South project with a 46.7 percent interest while Brazil’s Petrobras and Italy’s Eni hold a 23.3 percent and 30 percent respective interest.

Hadrian South connects underwater to the Anadarko-operated Lucius truss spar, which began operating in January. Exxon holds a 23.3 percent interest in the Lucius project.

Operations in the Gulf o  (go to article)

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How Red States Learned to Love the Gas Tax

The Atlantic via Yahoo News -- States across the country are raising their fuel taxes to pay for the upkeep of deteriorating roads and bridges, and in a surprising number of those states, the governors and legislative leaders pushing those changes are Republicans, not Democrats. In Utah, GOP Governor Gary Herbert signed a law last week passed by the state's Republican-controlled legislature that raises the gas tax by 5 cents and ties future increases to prices at the pump. A month ago, Iowa's Republican governor, Terry Branstad, approved a gas-tax hike that sailed through the legislature in under two weeks. Top Republicans in Georgia, Michigan, and South Dakota have proposed similar increases, and as many as 12 states could raise fuel taxes in 2015 alone, after six did so in the last two years...  (go to article)

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Forget Iran and Yemen, this new major geopolitical event could be bullish for oil markets

Financial Post -- While oil traders believe a potential deal between Iran and global powers could be bearish for markets as Tehran could unleash 35M barrels of oil currently sitting in storage, Citibank believes the elections in Nigeria “seem to forebode some bullish risk in markets.”

Brent crude prices for May dropped $1.47, or 2.6%, to S$54.82 as Iran and world powers worked toward a nuclear deal. Crude prices have declined 4.4% in the first quarter.

But a crude glut is not going to be “quickly exacerbated,” even if there is an agreement this week, Citibank analyst Edward Morse said in a note. “And if no agreement is reached the likelihood is that while some oil flows might increase, so would an array of additional sanctions that would also impact oil flows.”

A Saudi-led coalition of regional forces is  (go to article)

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Alon USA Entertaining Potential Purchase by Delek

Convenience Store News -- BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — Delek US Holdings Inc. is currently in talks to purchase some or all of Alon Israel Oil Co. Ltd., parent company to Alon USA Energy Inc.

According to a Tuesday filing by Delek with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Alon's board of directors formed a special committee consisting of independent directors and authorized it to, among other things, "review, negotiate and evaluate the company's request and make a recommendation to the Alon USA board of directors in connection therewith."

In its filing, Brentwood-based Delek stressed the merger talks are ongoing and "there can be no assurances that an agreement for [Delek] to acquire Alon Israel shares will be reached."  (go to article)

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Chicago CBOB falls 10 cents/gal to $1.5418/gal on refiner selling

Platts -- Chicago blendstock fell more than 10 cents/gal Tuesday on refiner selling linked to differences in summer gasoline specifications in the Midwest states.

CBOB at 9 RVP was assessed at $1.5418/gal, down 10.14 cents compared with Monday's spot price and a two-week low.

CBOB has posted double-digit decreases in two of the past three trading days. It fell 11.6 cents on Friday. The blendstock has fallen on six of the last nine trading days.

"We heard ExxonMobil was out selling. Sometimes the refiners just have barrels to sell, and if they can't find a bid, especially in Chicago, they will just [keep going] until they find one," a US products trader said.

A Midwest broker said ExxonMobil was selling 9 RVP gasoline that did not meet Illinois summer specifications, and that hurt the market for  (go to article)

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Tesla's secret product is likely to be home battery units

USAToday -- By now, everyone has had a day to ponder CEO Elon Musk’s mysterious tweet about a new non-car product offering from Tesla Motors that will be announced with great fanfare April 30.
After all, Tesla (TSLA) rarely disappoints when it comes to fanfare, even if the subject of the announcement doesn’t exactly light up investors or owners of its electric cars.

Our first reactions were that it might be a merchandise line — ball caps, jackets, sunglasses, pens, maybe even Tesla office chairs. Other high-end automakers have them in abundance, but Tesla already has all that.
Now speculation now is centered around the belief that the announcement will focus on batteries for buildings. (Remember, solar panel installer Solar City is another of Musk’s companies).

Tesla tracking website TeslaMondo says  (go to article)

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Consumers Want Big Changes to the Car Buying Process

GasBuddy Blog -- Autotrader's Car Buyer of the Future study, which was released today, shows that only 17 out of 4002 people prefer the current car buying process, and the rest want significant changes, particularly in the test drive, deal structuring, financing paperwork and service phases. "While there is good work going on right now to adapt decades-old sales processes, consumers are telling us that we as an industry are not moving fast enough," said Jared Rowe, president of Autotrader. "By recognizing—and embracing—the need for change, we have a tremendous opportunity to surprise and delight our consumers."...  (go to article)

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OPEC oil output hits highest since October

Reuters -- OPEC oil supply has jumped in March to its highest since October as Iraq's exports rebounded after bad weather and Saudi Arabia pumped at close to record rates, a Reuters survey found, a sign key members are sticking to their effort to regain market share.  (go to article)

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Oilsands producer Laricina Energy Ltd granted creditor protection

Calgary Gerald, Postmedia News -- A second Calgary junior oilsands producer has been granted court protection from creditors as low oil prices and investor disinterest amplify the effects of shrinking capital resources.

In a news release on its website, private Laricina Energy reports that it has been granted Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act protection by the Court of Queen’s Bench and the court has appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers as monitor.

“Requesting this creditor protection was a difficult, but necessary step,” said president and chief executive Glen Schmidt in the release.

“This was done after careful consideration of all available alternatives and the Laricina board of directors believes that this is in the best interests of all its stakeholders. We will continue to work hard with our advisers to pursue stra  (go to article)

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North Dakota's New Oil Train Safety Checks Seen Missing Risks

Reuters courtesy of Downstream Today -- New regulations to cap vapor pressure of North Dakota crude fail to account for how it behaves in transit, according to industry experts, raising doubts about whether the state's much-anticipated rules will make oil train shipments safer.

High vapor pressure has been identified as a possible factor in the fireball explosions witnessed after oil train derailments in Illinois and West Virginia in recent weeks.

For over a year, federal officials have warned that crude from North Dakota's Bakken shale oilfields contains a cocktail of explosive gas - known in the industry as 'light ends.'

The new rules, which take effect on April 1, aim to contain dangers by spot-checking the vapor pressure of crude before loading and capping it at 13.7 pounds per square inch (psi) - about normal atmospheric  (go to article)

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Harman buys in-car tunesmith Bang & Olufsen

USA TODAY MONEY -- The battle for ownership of the in-car technology continues to rage as driving itself slowly gets taken over by electronic gadgets and eventually by the car itself. In a bid to lock up consumers’ ears, Connecticut-based Harman International announced Tuesday that it is buying the automotive branch of storied Danish audio firm Bang & Olufsen for $157 million.  (go to article)

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As the U.S. population grew, gas consumption dropped 11 percent

Washington Post -- There are times when a bit of research yields a telling statistic, and this is one of them: Gasoline consumption fell by 11 percent over a decade during which the U.S. population grew by 8 percent.

That fact, revealed in the latest paper by Michael Sivak at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, and several other of his facts provide a framework ripe for extrapolation.

If the trend toward fuel efficiency continues — and there are more reasons to think that it will than that it won’t — that may speed movement toward energy independence and lower pollution.

But with Congress facing a May 31 deadline to find more money to fund transportation, bumping up the federal tax on gasoline, now 18.4 cents per gallon, seems like a bad bet to ensure a long-term flow of cash.  (go to article)

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Ron Kirk and Lee Jackson: Congestion will worsen without Trinity toll road

Dallas Morning News -- Dallas has never buried its head in the sand when it comes to planning for smart growth. We urge city residents to be thoughtful when looking for a balanced solution to downtown congestion.

We have three major concerns about the recent criticism of the Trinity toll road proposal, which was twice approved by Dallas voters.  (go to article)

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US West Coast gasoline differentials fade on rare UK cargoes

Platts -- Rare gasoline imports were entering the West Coast market as refiners start to emerge from maintenance, pressuring Los Angeles CARBOB down 6.50 cents Monday and dragging premium grades even lower.

Platts assessed Los Angeles CARBOB at NYMEX May RBOB futures plus 11.50 cents/gal. Premium LA CARBOB dropped 4 cents to a 20-cent spread over CARBOB, but an overall 10.50-cent decline against the futures. Other gasoline and premium gasoline markets along the West Coast also declined.

"Bids are hard to find," one broker said, noting that the incoming cargoes are supposed to be mostly carrying components for making premium gasoline grades. "Premiums are starting to narrow."

Platts cFlow vessel-tracking software showed three cargoes from Canada and the United Kingdom expected to arrive in Souther  (go to article)

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Report: Cheap crude prices could boost the U.S. economy for another two years

Fuel Fix -- A business economics group has boosted its outlook for U.S. economic improvement this year and next, particularly for job growth.

The March report from the National Association for Business Economics forecasts more hiring, a lower unemployment rate, a lower inflation rate and more growth in consumer spending in 2015, compared to the group’s forecast in December 2014.

The report, released early Monday, also predicts more investment by businesses in both equipment and intellectual property, as well as modest growth in stock prices.

“Healthier consumer spending, housing investment and government spending growth are expected to make outsized contributions to the projected acceleration in overall economic activity. Accordingly, recent labor market strength is expected to continue,” John Silv  (go to article)

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Oil is heading for its longest run of quarterly drops as the deadline for an Iran deal looms

Bloomberg -- Oil is headed for a third quarterly loss as Iranian and Western diplomats worked toward a nuclear deal that may lead to the OPEC member increasing crude exports.  (go to article)

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