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Delta refinery, union reach deal on local issues, likely avoiding strike

yahoo -- NEW YORK (Reuters) - Delta Air Lines Inc's Philadelphia-area refinery has struck a deal with the local union that will likely prevent the facility from joining the country's largest U.S. refinery strike in 35 years.

United Steelworkers 10-234 and Monroe Energy, the subsidiary of Delta that runs the 185,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Trainer, Pennsylvania, issued a joint statement Friday that said: "After a month of good faith negotiations, we’re pleased to announce that we have reached a tentative agreement on all local issues including wages and benefits."

The two sides declined to disclose the details of the agreement.  (go to article)

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U.S. Gas Pump Prices Rising Five Times Faster Than Crude Oil

Yahoo Finance -- Retail gasoline increased 0.3 cent to $2.458 a gallon Thursday, the highest level since Dec. 17, according to Heathrow, Florida-based AAA. After climbing 20 percent since Jan. 31, prices will rise by another 20 cents this month because of refinery maintenance and unexpected outages, the nation’s largest motoring group estimates.

Refineries are operating at the lowest rate in six weeks, government data show. Fuel production may slow further as more plants shut for seasonal maintenance. Gasoline is also climbing as the panic in oil markets subsides, with volatility the lowest in three months. The gain threatens to reduce the windfall to U.S. drivers from last year’s plunge.

More from Bloomberg.com: The 5,000-Mile Bike Ride To Save Lives

“The refinery problems led to increases in futures a  (go to article)

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U.S. Crude Oil Exports in January Reached 491,000 bpd -U.S. Census Bureau

Reuters -- U.S. crude oil exports reached 491,000 barrels per day in January, headed exclusively to Canada, foreign trade data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed on Friday.

January U.S. exports are some 49,000 bpd higher than December figures of 442,000 bpd, data showed. Volumes to Canada reached an all-time record in the month, according to historical data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

U.S. Census's foreign trade oil data is published weeks earlier than closely watched U.S. EIA trade figures. The EIA, which bases its numbers on the Census data, will release its monthly crude figures at the end of the month.  (go to article)

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Obama notes concerns over "dirty" Keystone oil extraction

Reuters -- U.S. President Barack Obama amplified the concerns of environmentalists about the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Friday and repeated his own reservations the project would have few benefits, but said he has not made a decision on the project.

Obama, explaining the debate over the pipeline to a group of students, described concerns about the "extraordinarily dirty" extraction methods for Canadian oilsands - a description the Canadian government has long argued is unfair.

"The reason that a lot of environmentalists are concerned about it is the way that you get the oil out in Canada is an extraordinarily dirty way of extracting oil, and obviously there are always risks in piping a lot of oil through Nebraska farmland and other parts of the country," Obama told students at the town hall event.  (go to article)

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Daimler to build van plant in U.S., creating 1,300 jobs

Associated Press/The Detroit News -- Ladson, S.C. — Mercedes-Benz Vans will build a new assembly plant for its Sprinter vans in South Carolina, investing a half-billion dollars and creating 1,300 jobs, the company announced Friday.

The company said the plant will allow vans to be more economically produced for the growing domestic market. It will manufacture them under the Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner nameplates.

Last year the company, a division of Daimler AG, sold almost 26,000 Sprinters in the United States, second only to sales in Germany.

“Given the future growth in the North American market, it simply does not make sense to supply customers with imported vehicles,” Volker Mornhinwig, the head of Mercedes-Benz Vans said at a news conference at the existing Daimler assembly plant.

The announcement brings another maj  (go to article)

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Oregon prepares nation's first per-mile road tax

Automotive News -- Some states, worried that rising numbers of electric and fuel-efficient vehicles will crimp their gas-tax revenues, are looking at alternative ways to fund road upkeep.

In July, Oregon will implement the first such alternative.

Oregon is giving its drivers a choice: pay the gas tax at the pump or pay a flat 1.5 cents per mile driven.

“Fuel efficiency is getting better and better, which is great,” said Michelle Godfrey, an Oregon Department of Transportation spokeswoman. But “when your road maintenance is funded by fuel sales, that spells trouble.”  (go to article)

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Illinois oil train derailment involved safer tank cars

Associated Prerss -- GALENA, Ill. — The two rail cars that split open and burst into flames during a western Illinois oil train derailment were retrofitted with protective shields to meet a higher safety standard than federal law requires, the railroad said.  (go to article)

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U.S. Oil Drilling Retreat Deepens as Rigs Hit 3-Year Low

Bloomberg Business -- (Bloomberg) -- U.S. energy explorers shut rigs targeting oil for the 13th straight week, extending the biggest retrenchment in drilling on record and dragging the total count to the lowest level since 2011.

Rigs targeting oil in the U.S. dropped by 64 to 922, the lowest since April 2011, Baker Hughes Inc. said on its website Friday.
 (go to article)

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West Virginia Derailment Raises Concerns About Volatility Of Bakken Oil

NPR -- Dangerously high levels of combustible gas - that's what tests show about the crude oil in the freight train that derailed in West Virginia late last month. Dozens of train cars burst into flame and exploded into huge fireballs. No one was killed, but 200 people from nearby towns were forced to flee their homes. The fire burned for more than three days. The train was carrying crude from North Dakota's Bakken oil fields and Russell Gold, who covers energy for The Wall Street Journal, has seen a lab report analyzing that oil.  (go to article)

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Show me the points: Watch videos, earn points

GasBuddy Blog -- Good news! There is now a new way to earn even more points. We recently launched an in-app feature where you can earn 200 points every time you watch a short video ad. How it Works:On your smartphone go to the “Win Gas” page. From there you will see “Get 200 Points! Watch This Video.” Tap on the icon and a video ad, ranging from 15-30 seconds, will begin to play. 




Once the video is done playing, X out of the ad and it will take you back to the “Win Gas” page. From there, you have the opportunity to watch another video. Keep in mind that there is a limit: five videos per 24 hours, collecting upwards to 1,000 points.   GasBuddy is always thinking about different ways for you to earn some extra points! To learn about all the ways you can rack up points click here.
...  (go to article)

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Debt Sinking Energy Firms - Cal Dive files for chapter 11

Houston Chronicle -- Offshore oil services company Cal Dive International and its U.S. units have filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, joining the handful of domestic firms to restructure their balance sheets amid low oil prices.

The Houston firm said this week it is set to sell off its least important assets and plans to either reorganize or sell its main subsea contracting business, which helps oil companies maintain offshore production platforms and pipelines.

"Our business has experienced several adverse events that were beyond our control, and with our current capital structure, we are no longer able to financially withstand the industry downturn," Cal Dive CEO Quinn Hébert said in a written statement.

He said the firm took a financial last year hit after two large projects were suspended and ...  (go to article)

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Gas Pump Prices Rising Five Times Faster Than Crude Oil in U.S.

Bloomberg -- Gasoline is rising five times faster than crude oil as refinery shutdowns limit supplies.

Retail gasoline increased 0.3 cent to $2.458 a gallon Thursday, the highest level since Dec. 17, according to Heathrow, Florida-based AAA. After climbing 20 percent since Jan. 31, prices will rise by another 20 cents this month because of refinery maintenance and unexpected outages, the nation’s largest motoring group estimates.

Refineries are operating at the lowest rate in six weeks, government data show. Fuel production may slow further as more plants shut for seasonal maintenance. Gasoline is also climbing as the panic in oil markets subsides, with volatility the lowest in three months. The gain threatens to reduce the windfall to U.S. drivers from last year’s plunge.

“The refinery problems led  (go to article)

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Fiat Chrysler CEO Marchionne earned $8M in 2014

The Detroit News -- Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne earned about $8 million in 2014, up $3 million from the previous year, according to the company’s annual filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Marchionne’s 2014 earnings included an annual salary of more than 2.5 million euros ($3 million based on the Dec. 31 exchange rate); 4 million euros ($4.9 million) in annual incentives related to the company’s performance; and 111,410 euros ($135,251) in other compensation.

Marchionne was by far the highest paid executive or board member disclosed in the 20-F filing for the world’s seventh-largest automaker, which paid board directors for Fiat Chrysler and the former Fiat SpA a total of about 11.2 million euros ($13.6 million) in total compensation for 2014, including 6.8 million euros ($8.3 m  (go to article)

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Ford starts production of two engines in Ohio

The Detroit News -- Ford Motor Co. said Friday it has begun production at its Cleveland Engine Plant of two engines for the first time in North America, including a new 2-liter twin-scroll EcoBoost engine.

The plant is now producing the twin-scroll 2-liter and 2.3-liter EcoBoost engines. Ford in 2013 added $200 million in investment and 450 new jobs at the Cleveland plant to help meet demand for EcoBoost engines and in a move to assemble the engines regionally.

Ford previously produced the twin-scroll 2-liter and 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine for North America at its plant in Valencia, Spain. That plant will continue to produce 2-liter EcoBoost engines for Ford vehicles built in Europe and will continue to machine and ship components for Ohio built engines.

The twin-scroll 2-liter EcoBoost engine is available  (go to article)

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Sinking Oil Prices Send Job Cuts Soaring

Forbes -- Employers cut more jobs in February 2015 than they did in February 2014. This is according to a report out Thursday from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. The monthly reading shows lower oil prices pushing February cuts to 50,579 from 45,835 a year earlier.

“Oil exploration and extraction companies, as well as the companies that supply them, are definitely feeling the impact of the lowest oil prices since 2009,” said the firm’s CEO John Challenger in statement. “These companies, while reluctant to completely shutter operations, are being forced to trim payrolls to contain costs.”

It is easy to see why energy companies are cutting back. In the last two months the price of West Texas Intermediate crude has been hovering near $50 a barrel down from an average price of $100.82  (go to article)

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Brent turns negative, WTI falls to about $50

Reuters -- Brent crude oil fell below $61 a barrel on Friday after earlier moving higher as fighting in Libya and Iraq stoked output worries, while traders kept a close eye on Iran nuclear talks that could eventually bring more supply to world markets.
Fighting has escalated in northeast Iraq where Islamic State militants have set fire to oilfields to deter Shi'ite militiamen and Iraqi soldiers from advancing. In Libya, worsening security conditions have led to the closure of 11 oilfields.
 (go to article)

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Expect low prices, more volatility in oil: Exxon CEO

CNBC -- Investors should brace themselves for more volatility in the oil market, with prices staying around current levels for a while, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson told CNBC.

"There is the potential for there to be further pressure on the market for a period of time," he said in an interview that aired Thursday on "Squawk Box."

"I think people kind of need to settle in for what is likely to be a bit of a volatile time, and I think need to settle in for what may be volatile around this level we're at."
 (go to article)

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Electric Garbage Trucks: Huge Energy Savings And They Won't Wake You Up In The Morning

Forbes -- The batteries deployed are not typical lithium-ion batteries. As Wright explains,Wrightspeed’s CEO comments that the company is already out of the lab and has been on the road for the past 14 months with medium-duty FedEx delivery trucks. The technology has been proven and the company is converting 25 more delivery vehicles.

The first Class 8 garbage truck will be picking up trash “in a few months,” and that’s a potentially huge target with an opportunity for vast improvements. According to Wright, Waste Management alone has 18,000 trucks. And then there are the thousands of municipal fleets plying our country’s streets every day, with an estimated 110,000 refuse trucks in the nation.

The initial customer will be a local provider in California’s Marin County. Wright comments that the cus  (go to article)

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Introducing Fracklog, the New-Fangled Oil Storage System: Energy

Bloomberg -- Oil drillers expecting prices to rebound after the biggest drop in six years have come up with an alternative to storing their crude in tanks: They’re keeping it in the ground.
It’s a new twist on an old oil-trading technique, known as a contango storage play, in which a trader buys cheap crude in an oversupplied market and saves it to lock in profits at higher future prices. Drillers who have spent millions boring holes through petroleum-rich shale rock are just waiting for prices to go up before turning on the spigot.
From North Dakota to Texas, there are more than 3,000 wells that have been drilled but not tapped, based on estimates from Wood Mackenzie Ltd. and RBC Capital Markets LLC. Waiting gives producers such as Apache Corp. and EOG Resources Inc. a better chance of receiving a hig  (go to article)

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A $60,000 speeding ticket? It happens in Finland, website reports

Yahoo.com -- A $60,000 speeding ticket? Yes, in Finland, according to Yahoo.com.

Reima Kuisla was traveling 64 mph in a 50 mph zone (In Finland, it's 103 kilometers per hour in a 80km/h zone), when he was cited and given a citation for 54,024 euros. That's about $60,000, according to Yahoo.

The country assesses penalties based on a percentage of the driver's income. Yahoo said Kuisla's fine was based on 2013 earnings of 6.5 million euros or $7 million in 2013.
 (go to article)

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

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

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

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

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Highway 97 crash kills one, injures dozens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Orange shipyard builds massive barge-to-tanker LNG vessel

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

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Big Corn Butters Up the 2016 Presidential Hopefuls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How New Autoworkers Became Second-Class Employees

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

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

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

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Train carrying Bakken crude derails, burns in Illinois

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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California State Senate holds hearing in Torrance on refinery explosion

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

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

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

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As strike lingers, some BP workers return to refinery

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

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

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

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

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

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Volatile Bakken crude expected to keep flowing through Texas

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

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

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

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

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Lower gas prices fueling saving, paying off debt

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

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

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

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Canada's Worst Driver looking for Montreal contestants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BNSF oil train derails in rural Illinois; two cars aflame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Western Iowa counties hire engineers to oversee proposed pipeline

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

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

Calhoun and Sac counties have also secured engineering services.

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Dakota's regulations come into force next month.

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

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Storage dearth may drive oil prices to $30

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

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

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

Bloomberg -- Too much oil, too fast.

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

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

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

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

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

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What Happened To Big Savings at the Gas Pump?

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

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

So where is all that money going?

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

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Kentucky Drivers Stranded on Snowy Interstate Tweet About Their Plight

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

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

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

Stranded drivers and passenger  (go to article)

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Clean fuels bill passes in the House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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