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Falling oil prices, sanctions, market panic send ruble to record lows

Hamilton Spectator -- MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin faces a major new challenge after a catastrophic fall in the value of the ruble, which hit a new low Tuesday despite the Central Bank's desperate efforts to halt the selling.

On the streets of Moscow, panicky consumers rushed out to buy home appliances before they became even more expensive.

Putin's popularity has been based on oil-driven economic growth that has helped increase incomes during his 15-year rule. The ruble's collapse, driven by a combination of slumping oil prices and Western sanctions, is denting that pillar of his power.

The Kremlin has tried to shift blame for Russia's economic woes, accusing the West of inflicting economic pain on Russia in an attempt to force a regime change.  (go to article)

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Grand theft auto? Not so much anymore

CNBC -- There may be far more cars on the road, but thanks to increased law enforcement and enhanced automotive technology, car theft has plunged 58 percent since 1991's all-time high, according to new FBI data.

Although that marks a significant decline, nearly 700,000 vehicles were still snatched in the U.S. last year.
"If you own a vehicle, your chances of having it stolen today are statistically and significantly less than at any other time since 1960," according to a new analysis of the data by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, or NICB.  (go to article)

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California adds new electric-vehicle perk

San Diego Union Tribune -- California’s plug-in electric vehicle drivers are about to get new financial perks.

Members of the California Public Utilities Commission are scheduled to sign off today on guidelines for an annual credit against utility bills or a one-time vehicle rebate. The commission will let individual utilities decide which incentive to offer.

Southern California Edison is proposing a one-time rebate of $250 to $350 per new vehicle owner.

San Diego Gas & Electric intends to provide an annual bill credit but declined to say how much.  (go to article)

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Cheap Oil Jamming Rails Means Higher U.S. Power Bills

Bloomberg -- U.S. electricity costs are poised to reach the highest level since 1999 because railroads are too clogged to deliver enough coal to power plants.

While the U.S. has the world’s biggest coal reserves, utilities are forecast by the government to end the year with the lowest stockpiles since 2005. With carriers including BNSF Railway jammed with record shipments of oil and grains, Xcel Energy and other power producers say they can’t get the coal they need.

The rail delays mean utilities haven’t rebuilt inventories that fell to a seven-year low last winter. Power producers filed 10 notices this year warning regulators that stocks were low enough to threaten generation, compared with two filings in 2013. Utilities have been obliged to rely more on natural gas, increasing costs for customers  (go to article)

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What Do You Do If You're Shell and Oil Is Plunging? Sell 1,000 Hot Dogs a Day

Bloomberg -- The price of oil may be disappointing to Royal Dutch Shell’s top executives, but their hot dogs and coffee are doing just fine.

Retail sales for the 45,000 gas stations owned by Shell worldwide generated $6 billion in non-fuel revenue last year, and that amount will rise this year, said Istvan Kapitany, the Hague-based company’s executive vice president for retail.

The result: while Shell cut $4.6 billion out of its third-quarter capital spending, it plans to expand what is already the world’s biggest chain of gas stations, particularly in Asia, Kapitany said. Some stations in Norway now sell more than 1,000 hot dogs a day, the company said, and the chain -- stretching across more than 70 countries -- sold about 100 million cups of coffee last year.

“In the retail business, it’s  (go to article)

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Cheaper oil could fuel a drop in mortgage rates

CBS News -- Consumers are finding another upside in tumbling oil prices: lower mortgage rates.

While indirect, there's a link between the steep slide in crude and current super-low mortgage rates. Concerns of a slowdown in global growth have partly pushed down oil prices, and those fears have also pushed down yields on longer-term Treasurys, to which mortgage rates tend to closely follow.

"The oil collapse of 2014 appears to have been a key driver" of the decline in mortgage rates, according to a report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch mortgage-rate strategist Chris Flanagan. "Further oil price declines could lead the way to sub-3.5% mortgage rates."  (go to article)

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Car plows into crowd; 1 dead, up to 12 injured

CNN -- One person died and up to a dozen others were injured after a car plowed into a crowd of people in Southern California after a church Christmas event, police said.

“The vehicle struck a group of pedestrians, which included up to … 12 people, many with critical injuries that have been transported to multiple hospitals,” said Lt. Joe Hoffman of Redondo Beach Police Department.
 (go to article)

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Receive $100 for reporting an impaired driver in Palm Beach County

Palm Beach Sun Sentinel -- Report an impaired driver in Palm Beach County and you could get $100.

During the holiday party season, the number of drunken revelers rises, so county residents are being enlisted in the DUI battle.

"It gives law enforcement additional eyes on the road," said Donna Bryan, spokeswoman for the Safety Council of the Palm Beaches. "Everyone should have an interest in getting impaired drivers off the roads because it could be someone who hits your loved one."

Since 2001, Palm Beach County has had the Mobile Eyes program, which has led to hundreds of arrests.

The Mobile Eyes program works simply: If residents spot an impaired driver, they call 911 and an officer is dispatched. If an arrest is made, the police fill out a Mobile Eyes report that is sent to the Safety Council.  (go to article)

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Saudi Arabia Says Hard for OPEC to Give Up Oil-Market Share

Bloomberg.com -- Saudi Arabia and OPEC would find it “difficult, if not impossible” to give up market share by cutting crude production, the country’s oil minister said.

Global oil markets are experiencing “temporary” instability caused mainly by a slowdown in the world economy, Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said, according to comments published today by the Saudi Press Agency. He reiterated the country’s intention to maintain output amid plunging prices.

“In a situation like this, it is difficult, if not impossible, that the kingdom or OPEC would carry out any action that may result in a reduction of its share in market and an increase of others’ shares,” Naimi said, according to the state-run news agency. Saudi Arabia, the largest producer in OPEC, will stick to its oil policies, he said.

 (go to article)

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North Idaho oil train risks to be assessed under grant

The Spokesman Review -- North Idaho governments will use a $36,000 federal grant to update their emergency preparedness plans to address the growing number of oil trains rumbling through their communities.

On average, two to three loaded oil trains pass through Spokane daily. But before they hit the Inland Northwest’s largest city, the trains travel along the Kootenai River, pass through downtown Bonners Ferry, cut through Sandpoint, cross Lake Pend Oreille and follow U.S. Highway 95 before heading west into Washington.

“Cargo being transported through our counties is always changing,” said Bob Howard, Bonner County’s emergency management director.

Public buildings, fish hatcheries, water intakes for cities and other critical community resources are on the oil train’s route.  (go to article)

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Wisconsin man blames fried fish for 10th DUI arrest

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..wate.comThe saddest thing about this story is that when most media outlets reported it, they played with headlines and made a joke about it... "Beer-Battered Man Blames Beer-Battered Fish".

Yes, it's true that the Wisconsin man recently arrested there for DUI told the arresting officer he hadn't been drinking, oh no... that beer the officer smelled was from the beer-battered fish he ate for lunch.  So, naturally, the media couldn't resist.

But they missed the bigger picture... It was the 75-year old drunk driver's 10th DUI arrest in Wisconsin.  And three of those have occurred since his license was revoked.  Should this repeat offender be incarcerated?  And if not now, when? ...  (go to article)

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Palm edges up on crude oil recovery; heavy rains eyed

Yahoo -- Malaysian palm oil

futures edged up on Thursday, swelled by a jump in crude oil

prices, while wet weather warnings across parts of the

second-largest grower stoked concern that yields of the tropical

oil will drop this month.

Malaysia's weather department issued an "orange" warning on

its website for heavy rain across the states of Sabah, Kelantan,

and Terengganu, expected to persist until the end of the week.

Rains are also expected across Pahang.

Sabah is Malaysia's top growing palm state, and together

with Pahang, accounts for about 45 percent of the country's

supply of crude palm oil.  (go to article)

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You know who's not getting cheap gas? The US military

CNBC -- Yes, the price of oil is in a free fall, and a gallon of gas at the station is falling fast, even below two dollars in some parts of the country. But you know who's not getting cheap gas? The U.S. military.

It's paying 100 times the price the rest of us are. The total cost of getting fuel where it needs to be is skyrocketing the cost for military gas. At a burn rate of 300,000 barrels of oil per day, the Department of Defense consumes 1.5 percent of total national consumption, and is the largest user of energy in America. As a result, it is the biggest proponent of clean energy. Even a total cost of $100 per gallon would be a steal for the military. That's because its calculations on energy costs are very different than for a regular consumer.

The $400 price tag, as spoken by Gen. James  (go to article)

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Thursday’s Technical Analysis: WTI Crude Oil

HeffX-LTN -- Thursday’s Technical Analysis: WTI Crude Oil

$USO

WTI Crude Oil closed higher Wednesday consolidating above monthly support crossing.

The mid-range close set the stage for a steady opening when Thursday’s US session opens.

Stochastics and the RSI are Neutral to Bearish indicating that sideways to lower prices are possible near term.

If WTI Crude Oil extends the decline off of its June high, the monthly support crossing is the next Southside target.

Closes above the 20-Day MA crossing are needed to confirm that a low is in.

Note: WTI Crude Oil has entered a Bear market as they fell more than 34% so far this year.

US Crude Oil imports have been declining on the back of the shale Oil boom that has brought the US near energy independence.

Crude Oil’s collapse is largely attributed to  (go to article)

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More than 500 rigs may shut down as oil slides, analysts say

FuelFix -- HOUSTON – As many as 550 drilling rigs may have to sit on the sidelines of U.S. shale oil patches over the next few months, analysts say, as oil prices have folded nearly in half since this summer.
The projections come a few days after Texas drilling rigs led the nation in a 1.4 percent weekly decline in the U.S. active rig count, according to oil field services firm Baker Hughes. Oil companies cut 20 rigs in the Permian Basin, a sharp turnaround from the flurry of rigs and hydraulic fracturing equipment that had rushed to West Texas earlier this year.  (go to article)

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Big oil could chop $930B in projects as prices fall

FuelFix -- HOUSTON – Global oil markets could lose as much as 7.5 million barrels of crude over the next decade if sunken oil prices stall the slate of new oil and gas projects around the world, a new report says.

In a report released Monday, Goldman Sachs estimated $930 billion in future oil investments that would bolster production through 2025 are in peril as oil prices have collapsed. That’s around 8 percent of the current global demand for crude, a sizable chunk of the worldwide supply glut that is putting enormous pricing pressure on black gold.  (go to article)

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il Trades Near Five-Year Low on U.S. Stockpiles, Iran

Bloomberg News -- Oil in New York swung between gains and losses near a five-year low as investors weighed a drop in U.S. crude stockpiles against signs that Iran is joining other OPEC members in refusing to cede market share.

Futures were little changed after rising 1 percent yesterday. Crude stockpiles in the U.S., the world’s largest oil consumer, fell by 847,000 barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration reported. Iran “will under no conditions let go of its share” of the market given restrictions on its exports in recent years, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said, according to the ministry’s news website.

Oil has slumped more than 20 percent since OPEC decided at a meeting last month to maintain its output quota, resisting calls from members including Venezuela to cut supply. Iran t  (go to article)

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Enbridge reports crude oil release from a Regina pipeline terminal

CBCNEWS -- The energy company Enbridge has reported a spill of an estimated 1,350 barrels of oil from its Line 4 pipeline at the
Regina Terminal in Saskatchewan.

In a news release issued Wednesday, Enbridge said they shut down a portion of the pipeline around 11:55 p.m. CST Tuesday.

The company said the oil spill occurred entirely within a pumping station and was contained on-site in designated catchment areas.

"There are no impacts to the public, wildlife or waterways," the company said. "Nearby residents and businesses may detect a faint odour."

Enbridge said a cleanup of the oil was expected to be completed Thursday, but there was no estimate for when Line 4 would be restarted.

The company said initial estimates put the volume of the release at approximately 1,350 barrels, although that...  (go to article)

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

FuelFix.com-Houston Chronicle -- Marathon Oil Corp. will spend about 20 percent less looking for and producing oil next year, the company said Thursday.

The Houston-based exploration and production company said it expects to spend between $4.3 billion and $4.5 billion in 2014, down from a budget of about $5.7 billion in 2014.

The company said it would tailor its budget to favor high-return investments in the U.S. and pare back exploration spending. Marathon said it expects annual production growth to be in the high single digits in 2015.

Marathon also left open the possibility that its budget could shift before being finalized in February 2015.

“The continuing dynamic change in crude oil markets together with the expected impacts to oilfield service costs warrants additional time before finalizing the 2015 budget,”...  (go to article)

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U Of M Study Finds Ethanol Worse For Air Quality Than Gasoline

CBS -- MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For years, the state’s corn and ethanol industries have touted the environmental benefits of burning the alternative fuel in our vehicles.

But newly released research from the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering is raising eyebrows.

The study compared pollution levels from gasoline fuel and 10 alternative energy vehicles, including hybrid electric, natural gas and corn-based ethanol.

One of the most surprising findings is that ethanol might actually be worse for air quality than conventional gasoline fueled transportation.

Researchers looked not only at the end result at the tailpipes but also took into account the full cycle of energy production.  (go to article)

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Obama shift on Cuba won’t mean big oil boom in Gulf of Mexico

Fuel Fix -- WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s decision to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba may lead to more commercial opportunities for Americans within the island nation. But don’t expect U.S. oil producers to move swiftly to take advantage of them.

Although geologists believe billions of barrels of crude may be lurking off Cuba’s coast in the Gulf of Mexico, oil companies have had a hard time finding that black gold. When Repsol, Petronas and other oil companies bored exploratory wells in 2012 and 2013, they turned up dry.

In some cases, oil wasn’t found, and in others, the discovery was not big enough to justify commercial development.  (go to article)

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Analyst Forecasts Tesla Sales 40% Below Company’s Estimate

24/7 Wall Street -- Saying that low gasoline prices could cause problems for the electric carmaker, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas forecast sales for Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) at 300,000 units by 2020, 40% below the company’s own estimate of 500,000 units. Jonas expects tumbling gasoline prices to be a factor pressuring sales of the company’s Model 3, which Tesla has said will be priced at around $35,000.


The selling price of the Model 3 could be closer to $60,000 Jonas said in a research note, according to a report at CNNMoney. At that price point, sales of the Model 3 could suffer from competitive gas-powered compacts, especially if gasoline prices remain low.
 (go to article)

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Meg Energy has second thoughts about 2015 spending plan, cuts it by 75%

Canadian Press -- CALGARY - MEG Energy (TSX:MEG) is slashing about $900 million from its 2015 capital spending plan, a 75 per cent decline from what was announced less than two weeks ago as the oilsand producer adjusts to uncertainty about oil prices.

The Calgary-based company is now aiming at $305 million of capital spending next year, down from the previous estimate of $1.2 billion. The previous 2015 budget included about $600 million for mid-term growth initiatives at the Christina Lake oilsands project.

MEG didn't disclose on Wednesday where the spending reductions will be made but said it's responding to a decline in oil prices, which have fallen to five-year lows.

It said that staff levels "will remain consistent with current levels to maintain operations and to execute future growth."

Its previou  (go to article)

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Citing Health Risks, Cuomo to Ban Fracking in New York State

New York Times -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration announced on Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of debate over a method of extracting natural gas.  (go to article)

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Family Suffers as Russia's ruble falls...

Battle Creek (MI) Enquirer -- "... This family spoke when the Ruble had just lost around 40 percent of its value against the dollar, but before the plunge of Dec. 15-16. ..."  (go to article)

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

Business Week -- The first thing you notice about the Mirai, Toyota’s new $62,000, four-door family sedan, is that it’s no Camry, an international symbol of bland conformity. First there are the in-your-face, angular grilles on the car’s front end. These deliver air to (and cool) a polymer fuel-cell stack under the hood. Then there’s the wavy, layered sides, meant to evoke a droplet of water. It looks like it was driven off the set of the Blade Runner sequel.

Just as the Prius has established itself as the first true mass-market hybrid, Toyota hopes the Mirai will one day become the first mass-market hydrogen car. On sale in Japan on Dec. 15, it will be available in the U.S. and Europe in late 2015 and has a driving range of 300 miles, much farther than most plug-in electrics can go. It also runs on the m  (go to article)

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Senators launch effort to block Pilgrim oil pipeline through 7 N.J. counties

NJ.com -- State Senate Republican leader Thomas Kean Jr. and state Sen. Richard Codey today announced they have introduced a resolution opposing the planned Pilgrim Pipeline, which would carry volatile oil through seven New Jersey counties over 178 miles from Linden to Albany, N.Y.

The move was expected, as NJ Advance Media previously reported earlier this week. The Senate resolution follows a similar measure introduced in the Assembly last week. Gov. Chris Christie has declined to comment on what he thinks about the pipeline.

“The Pilgrim Pipeline poses significant threats to public safety and the environment,” said Codey (D-Essex) “It would carry highly-volatile fuel through densely-populated and environmentally-sensitive areas, including areas that supply drinking water to the state’s residen  (go to article)

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FUEL PRICES COMING DOWN... FOR OUR CARS

FLYING MAGAZINE -- "Fuel prices are plummeting at the auto gas pump. Is there hope for aviation fuel too? ..."
By Robert Goyer / Published: Dec 16, 2014

Read more at http://www.flyingmag.com/blogs/going-direct/fuel-prices-coming-down-our-cars#zGcX2z68mLDjCUzU.99  (go to article)

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New York Gov. Cuomo moves to ban fracking

Fox News --
New York officials on Wednesday moved forward with an effort to ban fracking across the state, citing excessive environmental and health concerns.

The move came during a Cabinet-level meeting in Albany, the state capital, in which Gov. Andrew Cuomo's environmental commissioner, Joe Martens, recommended a ban.

Cuomo, a Democrat, said he will defer to Martens and acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker in making a final decision.

A ban would end the state's current six-month moratorium on fracking.

The process of fracking involves shooting a mix of pressurized water, sand and chemicals to split rock formations to release natural gas and so-called tight oil.

 (go to article)

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Cuomo Administration Moves to Ban Fracking

Wall Street Journal -- ALBANY, N.Y.—New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration said Wednesday it would prohibit hydraulic fracturing statewide, citing health concerns and calling the economic benefits to drilling there limited.

The long-awaited decision seals off about 12 million acres of the Marcellus Shale, an underground rock formation that spans six states and that has helped fuel a national energy production boom with its natural gas reserves. New York would be the first state with significant potential to become a major natural-gas producer to ban fracking.  (go to article)

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Consumer prices post biggest drop in 6 years on lower gasoline costs

LA Times -- Plunging gasoline costs led to the largest drop in consumer prices in six years last month and added another complication for Federal Reserve policymakers as they try to determine when to start raising interest rates.

The Consumer Price Index declined 0.3%, , the Labor Department said Wednesday, much steeper than the 0.1% decrease economists had expected. The index was flat in October.

November was just the second time this year that the closely watched index fell and was the steepest decline since December 2008, the Labor Department said.  (go to article)

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Militant fighting, price plunge threaten Iraq’s oil production goal

Bloomberg -- Iraq said a collapse in oil prices and the cost of fighting Islamic State militants may force the country to review its plans to boost crude production this decade.

“It may be necessary to revisit our ambitious plans for the next five years,” Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Rowsch Shaways said at a conference in London today, without specifying what measures the country might take.
 (go to article)

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Oil climbs from 5-year low; oil drop seen as excessive

Bloomberg -- Crude oil rebounded on speculation that a slide in prices to a five-year low was excessive.

Brent, the benchmark for half the world’s oil, gained as much as 1.2 percent after closing at the lowest level since May 2009 yesterday. West Texas Intermediate crude also gained. Prices slipped earlier after Russia reiterated it will keep production steady and the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a supply increase at Cushing, Oklahoma
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Pipeline And Nuclear Shortages Send New England's Utility Bills Soaring

Forbes -- Consumers in New England got a shock in their utility bills this month. A 40% increase over the previous month. National Grid , the largest utility in Massachusetts, decided that electricity prices for this winter would rise to 24¢/kWh, a record high.

But peak electricity prices could exceed 100¢/kWh like they did last year during the polar vortex (Forbes).

Not sure why New Englanders are so surprised. It was their choice to throw all-in for natural gas and renewables in a land of harsh winters. But they’ve refused to build new gas pipelines. And they’re shutting a nuclear plant that has 20 years of cheap reliable cold-resistant energy left on it.

New England already has the highest electricity prices in North America – about 18¢/kWh averaged over the whole year...  (go to article)

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Out-of-control gas well keeping 25 families out of homes

Fuel Fix -- COLUMBUS, Ohio — An out-of-control natural gas fracking well has kept 25 families from their homes for the past three days in eastern Ohio.

The Monroe County well had been temporarily plugged while work was being done elsewhere onsite. But when workers tried to resume production operations Saturday afternoon, the well began to flow uncontrollably.

The Columbus Dispatch reports Wednesday the families were evacuated from houses within a 1.5-mile radius of the well, located near the Ohio River about 160 miles east of Columbus.

Bethany McCorkle, a spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources, says the well is not on fire but the gas could be explosive.

The well is operated by Triad Hunter, a subsidiary of Houston-based Magnum Hunter Resources Corp. that also has offices in Marietta  (go to article)

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Congress renews tax breaks for wind, biofuel

Fuel Fix -- WASHINGTON — Tax credits that support wind farms, biodiesel and other renewable fuels are getting an extension, courtesy of Congress. But the renewal comes with a catch: It’s only good for two more weeks.

The Senate voted 76-16 to extend the biodiesel and renewable energy production tax credits — as well as dozens of other tax breaks — in one of its final acts before adjourning Tuesday evening.

The measure extends the tax breaks for a year — but retroactive to their earlier expiration in January, so the clock runs out again on Dec. 31, 2014.

The move means taxpayers can claim the cuts and credits on their 2014 tax returns, but there is no guarantee they will be back in 2015.

The approach disappointed lawmakers who sought a permanent extension of the tax breaks as well as fiscal conserv  (go to article)

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The Relentless Production of Shale Oil Is Breaking OPEC’s Neck

BloombergBusinessweek -- The world’s biggest oil companies faced ruin in the summer of 1931. Crude prices had plummeted. Wildcatters were selling oil from the bonanza East Texas field for a nickel a barrel, cheaper than a bowl of chili. On Aug. 17, Governor Ross Sterling declared a state of insurrection in four counties and sent 1,100 National Guard troops to shut down the fields and bring order to the market. A month later the Railroad Commission of Texas handed out strict production quotas.

That heavy-handed intervention in the free market was remarkable enough. Even more remarkable was who pulled it off. The person in charge of shutting down the wildcatters, National Guard Brigadier General Jacob Wolters, was the general counsel of Texas Co., an ancestor of Chevron (CVX).  (go to article)

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US Atlantic Coast heating oil imports leap as shippers supplement flagging pipeline supply

Platts -- US Atlantic Coast imports spiked in the reporting week ended December 12, according to data released Wednesday by the EIA, as increasing winter demand in the Northeast was met with dwindling pipeline supply, opening the arbitrage from Europe.

Atlantic Coast imports of heating oil with up to 2,000 ppm sulfur jumped 81,000 b/d to average 91,000 b/d for the week, according to the EIA data. This marks the highest since the week ended April 11, when it was 167,000 b/d.

The increased flow of imports hasn't led to higher stocks in the Northeast, though, as Central Atlantic and New England stocks have fallen by 58,000 barrels and 127,000 barrels, respectively.

"For a while, the pipeline has been stuffed with gasoline, and not much distillate has been shipped up," an analyst said.

This drag on  (go to article)

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Husky Delays Expansion Off Canada Coast on Price Drop

Bloomberg -- Husky Energy is the latest major developer of Canada’s oil and natural gas resources to put investment on hold as crude prices plummet.

The producer controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing is delaying a decision on the C$2.8 billion White Rose expansion off Canada’s Atlantic Coast by a year as it confronts the rout. Its priority will be projects that deliver quick returns, Chief Operating Officer Rob Peabody told investors on a conference call.

“We’ve deferred the final investment decision on West White Rose, although we absolutely remain committed to the development of that resource over the longer haul,” Peabody said, adding the company hasn’t disclosed a cost estimate. “The project remains an important part of our long-term Atlantic region portfolio.”

Husky follows Malaysia’s  (go to article)

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Radical concept tires morph to handle any terrain

fox -- Hankook Tire just showed off the results of its Design Innovation Project, a bi-annual daydream challenge to come up with the wildest, most futuristic tire concepts imaginable. This year's winners are amazingly sci-fi: Morphing, transforming tires that change with the terrain to drive on pavement, dirt, snow, and even water.  (go to article)

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Court clears way for Ariz. dreamers to get licenses

The Arizona Republic -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared the way for young Arizona immigrants or "dreamers" to get driver's licenses. The Supreme Court denied Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's request for a stay of an appeals' court ruling.  (go to article)

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Ford upgrades its 'Sync' infotainment system

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..cnet.comFord Motor Company will no longer have to mail USB drives to customers to update their in-vehicle operating system. The automaker, which has officially ended its relationship with Microsoft for its third-generation system, has learned an expensive lesson in how not to build a “carputer,” also known as an infotainment system.Ford said last week that its Sync 3 system will be offered in 2016 model-year Ford and Lincoln vehicles, and the company says its customers will find a faster and more intuitive system than its predecessors. Like all automakers, Ford is working to keep up with innovations that are rapidly changing the way drivers interact with their vehicles. Infotainment systems from just a few years ago seem antiquated and clunky because recent versions of these systems are vastly improved. ...  (go to article)

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Montana Legislators Mull 85 mph Speed Limit

Fox News -- Big Sky Country could soon be the land of high speeds.

Four Montana lawmakers have proposed raising the state’s maximum speed limit from 75 mph to 80 or 85 mph and are working on bills to introduce during next year’s legislative session, the Missoulian reports.

State Senator Scott Sales of Bozeman, who favors an 85 mph limit, told the newspaper he’s been working across the state in the Bakken oil fields near the North Dakota border and that the higher limit would shave an hour off his 400-plus mile trip.

State Representative Mike Miller adds that neighboring states with similarly wide open stretches of road have increased their limits to 80 mph with apparent success.

“Utah, Wyoming and Idaho have all done it. Nevada is looking at it, too.  (go to article)

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Russian ruble's fall: A classic 'currency collapse'

Forbes -- Then the price of oil—the commodity upon which the Russian economy is built—began to fall sharply, draining the nation’s economy of foreign money and crimping its growth. This dynamic drove the ruble sharply lower, culminating in an 11% drop on Monday, which forced Russia’s central bank to raise interest rates by a whopping 650 basis points, all but assuring a deep and painful recession in 2015.  (go to article)

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Oil holds below $60 as OPEC, Russia keep pumping

Reuters -- Brent crude oil traded below $60 a barrel on Wednesday, near 5-1/2-year lows, as major oil producers signaled that they would maintain output despite a supply glut and faltering demand in Russia and Europe.  (go to article)

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Drivers to save $550 on gas in 2015

http://money.cnn.com/2014/12/17/news/economy/gas-price-savings/index.html?iid=HP_LN -- U.S. drivers already loving low gas prices will save an additional $550 on gas next year, according the latest forecast from the federal government.

The average driver will spend $1,962 on gas next year, according to the Energy Information Institute, down about 20% from this year. That savings comes to about $45 a month.  (go to article)

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I-Team: Gas-selling gimmick could cost you $1 more per gallon

KHOU 11 News -- ...They're talking about the gas pricing at several Houston-area service stations, and how you if you don't look closely, you could end up paying much more.

...thought they were filling up at $2.37/gal at a Chevron station in Pasadena. But they really were paying $3.49. That's $1.12/gal higher.

The big difference is in the small print. A closer look at the signage reveals the lower price only is good when consumers pay with a Chevron gift card. But pay with cash, credit card or debit card, and you're in for a shocker.

The I-Team found more than a dozen Chevron, Texaco, and Citgo stations around Houston where you'll pay much more if you don't use their station gift card. 30 to 50 cents/gal more at some locations, 80 to 90 cents more at others. Topping them all...$1.24/gal difference..
 (go to article)

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EIA: Gasoline inventories surge again, distillates decline

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 decreased by 0.8 million barrels to a total of 379.9 million barrels. At 379.9 million barrels, inventories are 7.6 million barrels above last year (2.1%) and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

GASOLINE INVENTORIES:
Gasoline inventories increased by 5.3 million barrels to 222.0 million barrels. At 222.0 million barrels, inventories are up 1.5 million barrels, or 0.7% higher than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (+1.3mb); Midwest (+2.1mb); Gulf Coast (+0.6mb); Rockies (+0.1mb); and West Coast (+1.0mb). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this information likely drives prices  (go to article)

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U.S. consumer prices fall on gasoline, eyes on Fed

Reuters -- U.S. consumer prices recorded their biggest drop in nearly six years in November as gasoline prices tumbled, but this probably will not change views the Federal Reserve will start raising interest rates in mid-2015.

The Labor Department said on Wednesday its Consumer Price Index fell 0.3 percent last month, the largest decline since December 2008, after being flat in October.

In the 12 months through November, the CPI increased 1.3 percent, the smallest gain since February, after advancing 1.7 percent in October.

"The further fall in U.S. inflation won't worry the Fed too much," said Paul Dales, a senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics in London.

Wall Street had forecast the CPI slipping only 0.1 percent from October and rising 1.4 percent from a year ago.
 (go to article)

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Falling oil prices could hurt US producers, fracking industry

Fox news -- With the price of oil now below $56 a barrel, drivers are smiling at the gas pump. However, American oil producers and the states whose economies rely on them are bracing for tougher times ahead.

"If oil drops five dollars a barrel, that's about a $17 million loss to our general fund and $17 million to schools in Wyoming -- a total of about $35 million," Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead told Fox News. He said, depending on various factors, the oil industry makes up about 30 percent of the state's revenue.
The irony in the falling prices is that the success of U.S. producers using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies is partly responsible, along with slowing demand by struggling Asian and European markets. Now that success could come back to bite the so-called fracking  (go to article)

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Brent near $59 as OPEC, Russia keep pumping

Reuters -- Brent crude oil traded near $59 a barrel on Wednesday, near 5-1/2 year lows, as major oil producers signalled that they would maintain output despite a supply glut and faltering demand in Russia and Europe.  (go to article)

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