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Recent Gas News/GasBuddy Blog

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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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Tesla Hasn't Solved Range Anxiety

Yahoo News -- The announcements were praised by some analysts, but former General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) executive Tony Posawatz thinks Tesla missed the mark.

"Range anxiety is a term I actually coined in late 2006," Posawatz, who launched the Chevy Volt and led GM's efforts in electrification, told Benzinga. "[It] is dealt with by customers because they have a lack of range to do what they need to do to accommodate their everyday life and the spontaneous things that happen."

Posawatz said that what customers want is either "more range" or the ability to charge the vehicle more frequently and at a faster rate. Ideally, electric cars would be similar to those that run on gasoline -- charge stations would be everywhere, and it wouldn't take more than a couple of minutes to refuel the vehicle.
 (go to article)

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Oil industry to Obama: Stop excluding Atlantic drilling leases

Fuel Fix / Houston Chronicle -- WASHINGTON — As the Obama administration weighs where to sell offshore drilling leases from 2017 to 2022, the oil industry has a single plea: Stop ruling out potential prospects.  (go to article)

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Moonshine, Hogs and Drought Fuel Sorghum Boom Across U.S. Plains

Bloomberg -- Across the Great Plains, U.S. farmers are turning to a little-known grain called sorghum for relief from a two-year slump in agriculture prices.

A kernel-yielding stalk that’s native to Africa, sorghum has three things going for it right now: it’s cheap to plant; it holds up better in drought-like conditions than other crops; and most importantly, demand is soaring in China, where farmers feed the plant to their hog herds, and moonshiners make it into a whiskey-like liquor called baijiu. While corn, soybeans and wheat slumped into bear markets last year amid a global supply glut, sorghum prices have held stable.
...
While lesser known than corn, wheat, rice and barley, sorghum is the world’s 5th-largest grain by output. Like corn, it is used mostly to feed livestock and to make ethanol.  (go to article)

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Police All Over the U.S. Are Issuing Fewer Traffic Tickets

Time -- Drivers appear to be catching a break from cops, who are writing fewer tickets of late. But don't think for a second the decrease is because police have become softies all of a sudden.

The Nevada Supreme Court says it could be completely broke by May 1. The primary reason the court won’t have enough cash to operate? Not enough people are breaking the law. Or rather, not enough people are being caught breaking the law.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal recently reported that the number of traffic and parking citations has plummeted in Nevada, from 615,267 in 2010 to 484,913 last year. That’s a dip of more than 21% over five years. The state court system’s budget relies on millions of dollars in funding from such citations, so when significantly fewer tickets are issued, it can wreak havoc ...  (go to article)

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Oil could fall below $30 a barrel, but here’s why that’s a good thing

Market Watch -- Oil futures could tumble as far as the mid-$20s before bottoming. But if history is a guide, that could be a positive scenario for stocks as corporate earnings and consumers reap the benefit of lower energy prices, said Scott Minerd, global chief investment officer at Guggenheim Partners.

But first, Minerd sees little reason to expect a significant near-term rebound for oil prices.

The supply-demand dynamics remain decidedly unfavorable, he said in a meeting with reporters Monday, particularly with storage capacity at the Cushing, Okla., delivery hub likely to run out in coming weeks. That will put even more crude on the spot market. He also isn’t convinced rig counts have fallen far enough to stop U.S. oil production from rising.  (go to article)

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Oil drops to $55 as Iran nuclear talks intensify

REUTERS --

Brent crude oil dropped towards $55 a barrel on Tuesday as Iran and six world powers entered a final day of talks over a nuclear deal that could see the energy-rich country increase oil exports to world markets.

With a self-imposed deadline set for the end of the day, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China ramped up the pace of negotiations with Iran in Switzerland over an outline deal on Tehran's nuclear programme.

Disagreements on enrichment research and the pace of lifting sanctions remained as hurdles that could scupper a deal to end a 12-year standoff between Iran and the West.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Moscow he believed the talks had a good chance of success.

"The chances are high. They are probably not 100 percent but you  (go to article)

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With So Much Oil Flowing, U.S. May Be Reaching Storage Limits

NPR -- Never before has the U.S. had so much oil spurting up out of the ground and sloshing into storage tanks around the country. There's so much oil that the U.S. now rivals Saudi Arabia as the world's largest producer.

But there has been some concern that the U.S. will run out of places to put it all. Some analysts speculate that could spark another dramatic crash in oil prices.  (go to article)

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Chrysler eyes market for hybrid, plug-in minivans

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..freep.comAcross the board, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Toyota have aggressively developed and launched a growing number of hybrid and electric cars, but Fiat/Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is absent from the mix. It doesn't have a single hybrid in its lineup.That could be changing very soon.  According to the Detroit Free Press, Sergio Marchionne confirmed in January that a "massive" program to develop a plug-in hybrid minivan is underway, but he did not shared many details. Nor was there talk of the plug-in during a media tour last month of the Windsor Assembly Plant, the company's only minivan plant."As we retool the plant for production of the next-generation minivan, we are also preparing the line with the necessary tooling for production of the PHEV (plug-in electric hybrid) version," Jodi Tinson, spokeswoman for FCA US, told the Free Press.The company's five-year plan includes a plug-in electric version of an unnamed full-size crossover in 2017 which co  (go to article)

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New device blocks cell signals inside vehicles to stop distracted driving, says developer

Edmonton Journal -- An Edmonton businessman who is determined to keep his own children from driving distracted has created a device that he says delays texts, phone calls, social media messages and other alerts until a vehicle is in park.

Angus Poulain, a father of six, said he got the idea for his KRS, or Keeping Roads Safe, device about four years ago because his kids spent so much time texting and communicating through social media. He has 15-year-old twins who hope to get their drivers’ licences soon.

“You see people all over the place (on devices). It’s just an epidemic,” Poulain said in an interview from Nova Scotia, where he spends half his time.

“So we came up with this device ... It’s not an app. It installs right into your car and it delays signals — any texting, notifications, Instagramming,  (go to article)

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BNSF adds safety rules for oil trains

Longview News-Journal-AP -- BNSF has started taking additional safety measures for crude oil shipments because of four recent high-profile derailments in the U.S. and Canada, the railroad said Monday.

Under the changes, BNSF is slowing down crude oil trains to 35 mph in cities with more than 100,000 people and increasing track inspections near waterways. The Fort Worth railroad also is stepping up efforts to find and repair defective wheels.

BNSF spokesman Michael Trevino said these additional safety efforts were imposed last week in response to the recent derailments, including one involving a BNSF train earlier this month near Galena, Illinois, and the Mississippi River.

"The recent incidents involving crude trains, including our own event in Galena, has led us to believe that we must take further action,"...  (go to article)

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Dealerships not endangered, but need improvment

Detroit Free Press -- Dealerships are not an endangered species — in fact women and young buyers want to visit a showroom to validate their research, get a test drive and do some haggling over price.

Those are among the findings of the Autotrader "Car buyer of the future" study released Monday night in New York in advance of the New York Auto Show that opens to the media on Wednesday. The findings are based on interviews with more than 4,000 consumers.

Overwhelmingly, consumers don't like the current car-buying process, especially the 4-6 hours it takes to complete the transaction at the end, including an hour just for the credit check, said Jared Rowe, president of AutoTrader.

But that does not mean they want to excise the dealership out of the equation. In fact, 84% said they want to buy their car in...  (go to article)

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How a Former Audi Guy Plans to Spend $12 Billion Reviving Caddy

Bloomberg -- Johan de Nysschen was plenty skeptical when General Motors Co. asked him to run Cadillac.

De Nysschen helped make Audi a real contender in the U.S. and had recently joined Nissan’s Infiniti. Why jump to Cadillac, a brand that actually sold fewer vehicles last year despite a boom in luxury automobiles?

De Nysschen spent hours on the phone with GM President Dan Ammann to make sure this was no vanity project. The clincher: GM agreed to invest heavily in Cadillac, eventually budgeting $12 billion for the next five years, or more than a quarter of the sum being spent on new models companywide. Ammann & Co. also pledged to give de Nysschen enough time and people to get the job done as part of a plan to split Cadillac into a company that’s now based in New York.

GM is counting on Cadillac to d  (go to article)

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Lexus ES 300h Hybrid Sedan Gets 40 MPG

Boston.com -- To pay or not to pay, that is the question.

Is it is nobler to drive a Camry hybrid sedan at $32,492 or to spend 50 percent more for its upscale cousin, the Lexus ES 300h sedan for $48,410?

With apologies to Mr. Shakespeare, this is a quandary for the consumer. And here’s another for the Lexus shopper: deciding between the hybrid power train and the traditional gasoline engine.

Friend and former Boston Globe compositor Hank Sarazen recently bought the non-hybrid version of the ES, the Lexus ES 350.

“I looked at the hybrid and considered it,” he says, “but the deciding factor was the lack of space in the trunk. We travel, and we need a big trunk. The battery pack takes a big chunk out  (go to article)

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Canexus reports 'significant' layoffs in Calgary, Bruderheim

Calgary Herald -- Canexus reported Monday it has “reduced significantly” the workforce at its Calgary head office and at its crude-by-rail loading terminal at Bruderheim, just northeast of Edmonton.

The company said the moves were made as part of a plan announced in early March to cut costs and enhance revenue to generate $10M to $15M in additional annual profits in the future. Executives agreed to a compensation freeze and directors took a 10% fee cut as part of the program.

“Our Calgary head office and NATO (North American Terminal Operations) staff have been reduced significantly,” Canexus stated in a news release Monday. “We expect savings of $5M to $6M per year, excluding related severance costs.”

Spokesman Robin Greschner said 16% of the staff at Calgary and NATO had been affected. She didn’t have  (go to article)

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

Reuters -- 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, a development that oil traders worried would send crude prices into another tailspin.

One reason is that refiners, spurred by high profit margins, are rushing to buy crude and churn out more fuel in response to an unexpectedly swift rise in U.S. road travel and soaring Chinese demand for fuel-hungry sport utility vehicles.

Furthermore, shale oil drillers have hit the brakes on new wells faster than many anticipated. This could throw years of unyielding growth into reverse as early as  (go to article)

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