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Feds will erode crude-oil ban with incremental exceptions, Bloomberg reports

BIZ JOURNALS -- The '70s-era ban on crude-oil exports from the United States will be chipped away in small bits as federal government rulings allow exceptions, Bloomberg News reports citing energy analysts including IHS Inc.
The Commerce Department’s permission for Enterprise Products Partners LP and Pioneer Natural Resources Co. to ship abroad ultra-light oil known as condensate is likely the first step in a sting actions that will weaken the four-decade-old ban until it becomes obsolete, analysts say.
The Commerce Department ruling alone may free as much as 1.2 million barrels a day for export.  (go to article)

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North Dakota's Oil And Gas Boom Has Brought Prosperity, But Critics Wonder About The Costs

HuffingtonPostGreen/AOL -- BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota’s Heritage Center makes for a jarring sight in this Midwestern prairie capital. The newly-expanded museum consists of four interlocking cubes of stone, steel and glass, a gleaming architectural statement poking out of the otherwise drab Capitol grounds. Each cube features a gallery devoted to an era of North Dakota’s history, but the state’s present is everywhere.
The Northern Lights Atrium at the Hertitage Center mid-construction, in Bismarck, North Dakota Facebook

The legislature approved the dramatic $52 million expansion in 2009, but required the museum to come up with $12 million of that to supplement state money, and more than half has come from energy companies — including a $1.8 million gift from Continental Resources Inc. that put its name on one of  (go to article)

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The Way This City Is Tackling Gas Prices Has Some People Crying ‘Socialism’

TheBlaze/AP -- The town of Somerset, Kentucky, opened a city-run filling station on Saturday, the Associated Press reported, offering gas to the public at below-market rates.

From the Associated Press:

The Somerset Fuel Center opened to the public selling regular unleaded gas for $3.36 a gallon, a bit lower than some nearby competitors. In the first three hours, about 75 customers fueled up at the no-frills stations, where there are no snacks, no repairs and only regular unleaded gas.

Some criticized the move, with one convenience store owner saying, ”They’ve used the taxpayer money that I have paid them over these years to do this, to be against us. I do not see how they can’t see that as socialism.”

 (go to article)

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China's President Xi Jinping signs Venezuela oil deal

BBC-Chinese President Xi Jinping has signed a series of oil and mineral deals with Venezuela. -- They include a $4bn (£2.34bn) credit line in return for Venezuelan crude and other products.

The agreements came on the latest stop of a four-country visit to Latin America.

Mr Xi has already signed key deals in Argentina and Brazil. He has now departed from Venezuela and will visit Cuba next.

In Argentina the Chinese leader agreed to an $11bn currency swap providing much needed money for the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Argentina has been locked out of the international capital markets since a default in 2001.

Mr Xi also helped launch a new development bank alongside the other emerging powers of the Brics group - Brazil Russia India and South Africa - at a summit in Brazil.

The new bank is intended to create an alternative to the Western-dominated World...  (go to article)

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Halliburton Says Demand for North American Fracking Turn

Bloomberg -- Halliburton Co. (HAL:US), the world’s largest provider of hydraulic fracturing services, said demand for fracking in North America has turned a corner and it’s adding crews this year as the industry burns through excess capacity that has kept prices low.

“On our last call, some of you may have been skeptical when I said I was beginning to feel the turn in North America,” Chief Executive Officer David Lesar said on a second-quarter earnings conference call today. “Based on our performance during the quarter, I believe this feeling was dead on target. Today, we are not feeling the turn, we are in the turn, and I feel even more excited than I was last quarter.”
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Natural gas vote leaves fueling stations without standard

Fuel Fix -- HOUSTON — The failure of a group of state officials to make a key decision about how to measure natural gas as a transportation fuel leaves the industry without a standard, industry advocates said Monday.

Last week in Detroit, a national conference of state regulators met to decide how fueling stations should measure liquefied natural gas.

Natural gas advocates promote the fuel as a cheaper, cleaner alternative to gasoline and diesel. While compressed natural gas has been used in consumer and light-duty vehicles for years, liquefied natural gas or LNG is gaining traction in heavy-duty and long-haul trucks.

The growing use of natural gas as a motor fuel prompted the National Conference on Weights and Measures, comprising state government officials who set standards affecting fueling sta  (go to article)

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Oil prices rise above $104; natural gas sinks

AP -- Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $2.89 a gallon.
The price of oil rose more than a $1 for the third time in the last four trading days, and closed above $104 for the first time since July 3.
Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery rose $1.46 to $104.59 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the Nymex contract fell 6 cents to $103.13. Oil has gained 4.6 percent over the past four trading sessions.
Brent crude for September delivery, a benchmark for international oils, gained 44 cents to $107.68 on the ICE exchange in London.
Meanwhile, natural gas prices sank further below $4 on forecasts for cooler temperatures in parts of the U.S. Natural gas supplies haven’t been dropping as quickly this summer, as milder temperatures compared with last year reduce the need for homeowners to  (go to article)

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In 20 Years, Most New Cars Won’t Have Steering Wheels or Pedals

Wired -- By 2030, most new cars will be made without rearview mirrors, horns, or emergency brakes. By 2035, they won’t have steering wheels or acceleration and brake pedals. They won’t need any of these things because they will be driving themselves.

That’s the takeaway from a new study by the Institute of Electronics and Engineers (IEEE). It’s based on a survey of more than 200 experts who work in the various industries that are slowly pushing us toward a future where humans are so much worse than robots are at driving, it’s not worth letting us even touch a steering wheel.

Automakers have made huge strides toward producing conventional cars that can drive themselves in select situations. A few of those will likely be on the market by the end of the decade or soon after.  (go to article)

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Tesla Model S hack reportedly controls locks, horn, headlights while in motion

Ars Technica -- Tesla Motors officials vowed to investigate reports that its Model S sedan is susceptible to hacks that can remotely control the car’s locks, horn, headlights, and skylight while the car is in motion, according to a published report.
Further ReadingHow mobile app weakness could let hackers track and unlock a Tesla Model S

Lack of limits on wrong passwords, threats from third-party apps increase risks.
The hacks were carried out at the Syscan 360 security conference in Beijing, an article published by Bloomberg News reported. The report cited a brief post on Chinese social media site Weibo from a representative of China-based Qihoo 360 Technology Co., which said the experiment was carried out by members of the company's information technology department.

The news comes a week after  (go to article)

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'State Of The Climate' Report: Continued Disruption

Popular Science -- The cover image of "State of the Climate in 2013," makes the impact of the report, which was released today, clear.

Fairbanks, Alaska saw a record-breaking 36 days with temperatures at 80°F or higher. “I can tell you that that many days at such high temperature is not a pleasant experience,” said Martin Jeffries, a scientist with the Office of Naval Research, “not the least because there is not a lot of air conditioning in Alaska.”  (go to article)

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World breaks monthly heat record 2 times in a row

St Louis Post-Dispatch -- All 12 of the world's monthly heat records have been set after 1997, more than half in the last decade. All the global cold monthly records were set before 1917.

The first six months of the year are the third warmest first six months on record, coming behind 2010 and 1998, according to NOAA

Global temperature records go back to 1880 and this is the 352nd hotter-than-average month in a row.  (go to article)

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Oil-by-rail fight in Washington threatens California gasoline prices

Reuters -- California's chance to keep a lid on some of the nation's highest gas prices and join in the spoils of a domestic oil production boom is threatened by quickly growing opposition to a rail terminal in Washington state.

The hitch in the long-planned project by Tesoro Corp exemplifies growing problems for moving crude oil on trains around the country after a string of fiery rail crashes.

While the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is the marquee battle between pump prices and environmentalist concerns, crude-by-rail is a growing issue and has a more immediate effect on domestic consumers and refiners. The cost of delays from the crude-by-oil fight may be steepest in California, an isolated market increasingly dependent on foreign oil.

Tesoro's project aims by mid-2015 to start sending up to 36  (go to article)

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Maine town fights plan to use pipeline to export oil sands crude

LA Times -- Tom Blake, like thousands of his neighbors in this coastal town, is used to living alongside the oil industry. Tank farms cluster in neighborhoods, by the park where families watch the movie "Frozen" on a summer night, next to schools and senior citizens apartment buildings. As a child, Blake, the town's former mayor, used to jump into high snow drifts from the massive oil tank next door.

Now, after decades as a New England hub for importing crude oil and distributing fuel, South Portland is enmeshed in a dispute with the oil industry that echoes far beyond southern Maine.

On Monday night, the South Portland City Council, including Blake, is expected to pass an ordinance that would prevent the export of crude oil from the waterfront. The product of a relentless 18-month campaign by resid  (go to article)

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Tesla Motors Inc Model 3: Expert Views

ValueWalk.com -- Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) announced that it would launch its new Model III at a price point of $35,000, which is substantially lower than the current Model S price of $70,000. Although there is more than one issue that could hinder the company from producing an electric car at such a low-price point, Tesla hopes to keep the price down by economy of scale.
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Top Texas Regulator: Could Russia Be Behind City's Proposed Fracking Ban?

Huffingtonpost -- The head of the Texas Railroad Commission, the agency that regulates oil and gas operations in the state, is fighting to stop a proposed ban on fracking in one local city, and he's worried it's not the locals who support it. Chairman Barry Smitherman recently insinuated that "out of state sources," like the Russians, may be playing in a local effort to ban fracking.  (go to article)

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How City Park Design Contributes to Resident Health

UrbDeZine Chicago -- City parks are more than pretty outdoor spaces — research shows they can also be critical to improving a community’s health. In fact, from the earliest days of their implementation, parks have been tools for boosting air quality, encouraging safe physical recreation, reducing disease and discouraging crime, according to the George Wright Forum. That’s why park design is so important. The way a park is set up and organized plays a crucial role in how much it is used and, therefore, what level of impact it can make.

And after all, health is "good".  (go to article)

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New safety rules will test the oil train model

Reuters -- North Dakota’s Bakken oil patch has thrived thanks in large part to the once-niche business of hauling fuel on U.S. rail tracks. New safety rules may now test the oil train model.  (go to article)

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Leases Entice Drivers to Upgrade Cars as Often as IPhones

Bloomberg News -- Auto leasing is back in a big way as automakers including Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co. pull back on discounts and rebates and entice Americans with ads promising cheap leases instead. So far this year, leases have accounted for about 27.7 percent of new-auto sales, according to Edmunds.com, the highest rate in years. Buyers like Gilgis shun long-term loans associated with outright purchases because increasingly they see cars as smartphone-like gadgets to be upgraded every few years.

“Like an iPhone, one can get a new vehicle with all the new technology and have a similar payment as before,” said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst for auto researcher Edmunds.com.  (go to article)

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People living near cycle paths get 45 minutes' more exercise overall every week

road.cc -- People who live near a cycle path are more likely to do more exercise overall, according to a new study published today in the American Journal of Public Health.

Study of communities before and after cycle infrastructure showed striking impact on daily activity levels  (go to article)

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Best Car Deals for the Month of July

Wall St 24/7 -- The editors at Kelley Blue Book (KBB) have put together a list of the best lease and purchase deals available for the month of July. There are five significant cash-back offers and five leasing deals that stand out from the crowd.  (go to article)

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U.S. Gets Lackluster Energy Efficiency Ranking

Climate Central -- Germany is the global leader in energy efficiency, and the U.S., with its ingrained car culture, is among the least energy efficient of the world’s largest economies.

That’s the conclusion of a new report released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, which ranks the world’s 16 largest economies based on 31 different measurements of efficiency, including national energy savings targets, fuel economy standards for vehicles, efficiency standards for appliances, average vehicle mpg, and energy consumed per square foot of floor space in residential buildings, among other metrics.
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U.S. Oil Futures Reach Two-Week High on Refinery Demand

Bloomberg -- West Texas Intermediate crude rose to the highest in almost three weeks as strong refinery demand reduced U.S. inventories. The U.S. benchmark’s discount to Brent narrowed to a three-month low.

Prices gained for a third time in four days. U.S. refineries operated at the highest rate in nine years in the week ended July 11, according to the Energy Information Administration. Crude inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI, dropped to a six-year low as oil flowed to the Gulf Coast where prices were higher.  (go to article)

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Watch Hyundai Demonstrate the 2015 Genesis’s Safety Features Unsafely in a Wild Commercial

Car and Driver -- The two-minute video, which was put on YouTube by TestDriven, is called the “The Empty Car Convoy” and demonstrates the 2015 Genesis sedan’s lane-keeping assist, radar cruise control, and emergency auto braking features in a rather clever way.  (go to article)

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Global heat record broken for June, following record May

AP -- The globe is on a hot streak, setting a heat record in Jun. That's after the world broke a record in May

The NOAA announced Mon that Jun average global T was 16.2C, which is 0.72 higher than the 20th century average. It beat 2010's record by 0.05C

While 1/20 of a degree doesn't sound like much, in T records it's like winning a horse race by several lengths

"We are living in the steroid era of the climate system

Both the Jun and May records were driven by unusually hot oceans, especially the Pacific and Indian

The heat hit New Zealand, N S.America, Greenland, C Africa and S Asia particularly hard

Environment Canada had forecasted cooler than average T in Jun because of the cooling effect of the Great Lakes with record ice cover. The U.S. on the other side had only its 33rd hottest Jun  (go to article)

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Ford to deploy face recognition software

GasBuddy Blog -- Future Ford vehicles may soon be able to identify their owners using facial-recognition software, the automaker says. "The use of interior imaging is purely research at this point," said Paul Mascarenas, Ford Research and Innovation chief technical officer and vice president.  "However, the insights we've gained will help us shape the customer experience in the long term."Ford is also developing a mobile phone app that gives drivers the ability to remotely peer into their car. The feature would enable the user to check for belongings left inside the car or authorize/decline other drivers to operate the vehicle....  (go to article)

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US Settlement with Minnesota Coal-fired Utility to Reduce Emissions, Fund Projects to Benefit Enviro

United States Environmental Protection Agency -- WASHINGTON – In a settlement with the United States, Minnesota Power, an ALLETE company based in Duluth, has agreed to install pollution control technology and meet stringent emission rates to reduce harmful air pollution from the company’s three coal-fired power plants located in Cohasset, Hoyt Lakes, and Schroeder, Minnesota, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today. The settlement will resolve claims that the company violated the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act by unlawfully constructing major modifications at its plants without obtaining required permits and installing and operating the best available air pollution control technology, as the Act requires.

EPA expects that the actions required by the settlement  (go to article)

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Oil Trains, Born Of US Energy Boom, Face Test In New Safety Rules

RigZone -- WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - North Dakota's Bakken oil patch has thrived thanks in large part to the once-niche business of hauling fuel on U.S. rail tracks. New safety rules may now test the oil train model.

Within weeks, the Obama Administration is due to unveil a suite of reforms that will rewrite standards conceived long before the rise of the shale oil renaissance, at a time when crude rarely moved by rail and few Americans had ever seen the mile-long oil trains that now crisscross the nation.

Taken separately, the changes appear incremental - a question of a fraction of an inch of steel in tank cars, a few miles an hour of speed or rerouting trains; stripping explosive gases out of the oil would be costly but not complex.
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General Motors legal team comes under fire at Senate hearing

The Washington Post -- ... Senators on both sides of the aisle asked tough questions about the company’s handling of the safety crisis, directing much of their criticism toward Millikin and the company’s legal department. For about three years, Millikin has said, his subordinates kept him in the dark about possible punitive damages facing the company in connection with the ignition switch problem.

In a particularly tense exchange, subcommittee chairwoman Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) demanded from Barra an answer on why Millikin had been allowed to keep his job, calling his lack of knowledge about the issue “either gross negligence or gross incompetence.”

But Barra rose to Millikin’s defense. “He is the person I need on this team. He had a system in place. Unfortunately in this instance it wasn’t brought to hi  (go to article)

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Renewables Revolution Could be in Management, Not Tech

Climate Central -- Cutting-edge renewable energy technology as a way to tackle climate change may be a sexy topic, but the next 15 years are likely to bring few revolutionary changes in how we generate our electricity.

Instead, any revolution is more likely to be in how U.S. power grids are managed and how utilities do business, scientists say.
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Salt water -powered Quant e-Portlimousine

Gizmag -- After making a debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, the Quant e-Sportlimousine has received approval from Germany's TÜV Süd. The car, which uses an electrolyte flow cell power system, is now certified for use on German and European roads. read more  (go to article)

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Oil-by-rail fight in Washington threatens California gasoline prices

Reuters -- VANCOUVER Washington (Reuters) - California's chance to keep a lid on some of the nation's highest gas prices and join in the spoils of a domestic oil production boom is threatened by quickly growing opposition to a rail terminal in Washington state.

The hitch in the long-planned project by Tesoro Corp exemplifies growing problems for moving crude oil on trains around the country after a string of fiery rail crashes.

While the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is the marquee battle between pump prices and environmentalist concerns, crude-by-rail is a growing issue and has a more immediate effect on domestic
consumers and refiners. The cost of delays from the crude-by-oil fight may be steepest in California, an isolated market increasingly dependent on foreign oil.  (go to article)

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Fuel-efficiencies drive down passenger vehicles’ energy demands

Fuel Fix -- Passenger vehicles will burn less fuel in the coming decades as automobile manufacturers make more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, slashing energy demand even as more Americans hit the road, a new report finds.

Passenger vehicles made up nearly two-thirds of the transportation industry’s fuel demands in 2012, but their share is expected to drop to 51 percent by 2040, according to projections by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

That’s because cars and trucks are traveling farther on a single tank of gasoline thanks to fuel economy improvements in part propelled in part by federal mandates to reduce emissions. Average fuel efficiency is expected improve from 21.5 miles per gallon across the passenger vehicle stock in 2012 to 37.2 miles per gallon by 2040, said Patricia Hutchins  (go to article)

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Traders Use Trucks, Trains to East West Texas Oil Glut

Bloomberg -- Traders are turning to trains and trucks to clear a glut of crude in West Texas that’s threatening to keep prices in the largest U.S. oil basin depressed for months.

West Texas Intermediate crude in Midland, Texas, has averaged $7.15-a-barrel less this year than the same grade in Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for New York-traded oil futures. It’s on pace to be the largest annual discount in data compiled by Bloomberg dating to 1991.

The price gap has emerged as directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing have nearly doubled Permian production in the past five years, overwhelming  (go to article)

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Steam from the sun

Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- A new material structure developed at MIT generates steam by soaking up the sun.

The structure — a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam — is a porous, insulating material structure that floats on water. When sunlight hits the structure’s surface, it creates a hotspot in the graphite, drawing water up through the material’s pores, where it evaporates as steam. The brighter the light, the more steam is generated.

The new material is able to convert 85 percent of incoming solar energy into steam — a significant improvement over recent approaches to solar-powered steam generation. What’s more, the setup loses very little heat in the process, and can produce steam at relatively low solar intensity.  (go to article)

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Subaru Sued over Claims of defect

ABC News -- The lawsuit alleges violations of the state's consumer fraud act, breach of express warranty and other violations. It says piston rings in the vehicles wear out quickly and some vehicles burn excessive amounts of oil.

The models affected by the defect are the 2011-14 Forester 2.5-liter, 2013 Legacy 2.5-liter, 2013 Outback 2.5-liter, 2012-13 Impreza 2-liter and 2013 XV Crosstek 2-liter, according to the lawsuit.
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Wisconsin train crash injures 2 people, spills oil

Associated Press -- A Canadian National Railway Co. train struck another freight train as it rolled through a small village in southeastern Wisconsin, causing cars to derail, injuring two people and spilling thousands of gallons of diesel oil that prompted the evacuation of dozens of homes.

The southbound Canadian National train struck several Wisconsin & Southern Railroad cars around 8:30 p.m. Sunday at a rail crossing in Slinger, according to Patrick Waldron, a Canadian National spokesman.
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GM orders dealers to stop selling some used Cadillacs

Detroit Free Press -- General Motors ordered its Cadillac dealers to stop selling some older versions of two of its hottest models because of the ignition switch recall.

Dealers have been told not to sell the 2003 to 2013 model of the CTS and the 2004 to 2006 SRX as used cars, Automotive News reported. The stop-sale was ordered because a fix is not yet available for a June 30 recall in order to make sure that a knee bump can't turn off the ignition switch.

If the ignition switch is bumped, it can move to the "accessory" position, which would disable the car's air bags and power steering and brakes. Unlike the recall of the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion that sparked GM's recall troubles this year, the Cadillac recall isn't based around a system that didn't meet GM's specifications and turned too easily.  (go to article)

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Oil Prices Rebound Above $103 on Geopolitical Risk

ABC News -- Oil prices rebounded slightly on Monday as traders gauged the possibility of more sanctions against Russia and more violence in Libya.

By mid-afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery was up 45 cents to $103.58 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the Nymex contract fell 6 cents to $103.13.

Brent crude for September delivery, a benchmark for international oils, was down 3 cents to $176.21 on the ICE exchange in London.

Washington announced new sanctions last Wednesday on Russia, including its biggest oil company, over Moscow's support for separatist forces in Ukraine.

On Thursday, a Malaysia Airlines jetliner was shot down in Ukraine, raising concern a possible Western response might disrupt Russian oil exports, but those  (go to article)

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Delta Signs Five-Year Pact for U.S. Crude Supply to its Refinery

Reuters -- Delta Air Lines, trying to boost savings on manufacturing of jet fuel, said on Monday it reached a five-year agreement with a Dallas energy company for 65,000 daily barrels of U.S. crude oil to be supplied to its Pennsylvania refinery.

Delta subsidiary Monroe Energy said in a statement its accord with Bridger LLC will supply about one-third of the oil refined daily at the Trainer refinery in suburban Philadelphia. Combined with other U.S. crude supplies, the Bridger deal will help Delta meet its goal of having a minimum of 70,000 barrels a day of U.S. crude sourcing at the refinery.

Bridger supplies oil from major U.S. production regions and basins including Permian, Bakken, Rockies and Gulf Coast, among others, the statement from the companies said. Crude from the Bakken oil fields  (go to article)

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Recent improvements in petroleum trade balance mitigate U.S. trade deficit

EIA -- Since the mid-1970s, the United States has run a deficit in merchandise trade, meaning that payments for imports exceeded receipts for exports. This large and growing deficit on the merchandise trade balance reached a maximum of $883 billion in the second quarter of 2008.

Crude oil and petroleum products play a significant role in the balance of U.S. trade accounts, and the value of petroleum trade is sensitive to both changes in price and volume. The United States has historically imported more petroleum and petroleum products than it has exported. The deficit reached a maximum of $452 billion in the third quarter of 2008, as a result of a sharp run-up in prices. By the first quarter of 2009 the petroleum trade deficit improved to $174 billion as energy prices and domestic demand fell an  (go to article)

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Does Big Oil Really Care About Vulnerable Communities?

Huffington Post -- There they go again... with the same lament we always seem to hear from Big Oil lobbyists when it's time to protect public health:

Don't put environmental protections on fuels, because that "will hit low-income and middle-income families the hardest." In other words, if you make us clean up our act, then we'll be forced to raise gas prices, which hurts vulnerable people... You don't want to hurt them, do you?
 (go to article)

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North Dakota's Oil And Gas Boom Has Brought Prosperity, But Critics Wonder About The Costs

Center Of Plublic Integrity -- In addition to the tax revenue they’ve brought, the oil companies have showered the state with additional money — new millions for universities, museums, hospitals and other charitable causes.  (go to article)

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National average continues to cool off

GasBuddy Blog -- For the third consecutive week, the national average is looking at a downward trend across much of the U.S.- prices countrywide now stand an average of 12c/gal below their peak of $3.68/gal on June 27.Gas prices now stand lower on many comparative metrics: lower than yesterday, a week ago, a month ago, and down 11c/gal versus a year ago. Compared to last week Monday, just two states are seeing prices higher, Ohio stands 2.6c/gal higher than last Monday, and Indiana stands 3.1c/gal higher than last week, thanks to price cycling behavior in those states that sees prices go very low only to rebound slightly....  (go to article)

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Coal railroad sees further delay

The Spokesman Review -- BILLINGS – U.S. coal industry efforts to tap into the growing export market are struggling to gain traction, as bureaucratic hurdles and resistance from environmentalists slow proposed mines in the Northern Plains, ports on the West Coast and now a proposed coal railroad in Montana.

The Surface Transportation Board said Friday it will take until next April to complete its draft analysis of the Tongue River Railroad. That’s the second significant delay in work originally scheduled for completion last year.

The $403 million proposed rail line is jointly owned by BNSF Railway, Arch Coal Inc. and candy-industry billionaire Forrest Mars Jr. If built, it would open the door to new mines in the Powder River Basin along the Montana-Wyoming border – home to one of the larger coal reserves  (go to article)

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'We Will Fight': Keystone XL Pipeline Foes Fear Worst for Water Supply

NBC News -- Facing the sunrise on a frigid morning, Rosebud Sioux tribal leader Royal Yellow Hawk offered an ancient prayer in song, his voice periodically muffled by the whistling prairie wind. Behind Yellow Hawk was a cinematic scene from another century: 30-foot-tall tipis arranged in a half circle, quickly brightening in the morning light.

This tipi encampment was erected this spring to be a visible and ongoing embodiment of opposition to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, which, if constructed, would hug the reservation’s territory in transporting diluted bitumen oil 1,179-miles from Canada’s tar sands to Steele City, Nebraska.

The Keystone XL is being built by the Canadian energy company, Trans Canada. This fourth and final phase of the project—still awaiting approval by the Obama  (go to article)

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Hunt for oil and gas to begin off East coast

The Hill -- The Obama administration opened up the Atlantic to oil and gas exploration for the first time in nearly four decades on Friday.

The announcement from Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) allows the use of air guns and sonic sensors to search off of the East Coast.

It is a major step toward allowing future drilling in the Atlantic, which has remained off-limits for over 30 years.

While the decision doesn't guarantee that lease sales for drilling in Atlantic waters will be included in the Interior Department's five-year plan for 2017-2022, it is a step in that direction.
 (go to article)

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Sanctions on Russian oil giant unlikely to hurt BP

The Hill -- The impact on U.S. companies from stricter sanctions on Russia should be minimal, analysts say.

The sanctions specifically target the oil giant Rosneft's ability to borrow western capital, the Houston Chronicle reports.

That hit on Rosneft shouldn't affect its relationship with BP, its biggest investor, Brian Youngberg, an analyst with Edward Jones, told the Chronicle.

“As of now, I don’t think there’s going to be any real impact on the operations,” Youngberg said.

“Today’s sanctions are more tied to how Rosneft funds its growth.”
BP owns 19.8 percent stake in Rosneft and is supplied with 1 million barrels of oil per day from its production in Russia.
 (go to article)

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Will driverless trucks soon roll onto our roads?

BBC -- The future of driving is automated, we’re being led to believe. Only last week, computing giant Google unveiled plans for a self-driving car it will build itself.

But long before we’re sitting in the passenger seat being ferried to our destination by a robot driver, a much bigger kind of vehicle is likely to be zooming past us, its speed and braking controlled not by a human but by a computer.

Long-distance lorries may be the ideal test-bed for autonomous driving technology, and it could bring improvements in safety and fuel consumption.

One company that’s already built robot trucks is Peloton Technology, based in Silicon Valley, California. There I looked around one of two enormous, maroon and gold truck cabs fitted with driverless tech. This iconic symbol of the great American open...  (go to article)

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High cost of gasoilne...keeping Canadians at home this summer

The Canadian Press -- A new survey says nearly one quarter of Canadians won't be travelling this summer, with budget concerns keep them close to home.
The survey by digital offers website RetailMeNot.ca says the high price of gas and accommodations are the top reasons for keeping 42 per cent of Canadians at home, followed by high air fares for 37 per cent of those surveyed.
Just seven per cent of say they'll be travelling overseas this summer.
And 28 per cent of plan to limit their spending on summer travel and transportation to $100 or less.
But the survey found that Canadians will spend $100 to $300 on alcohol during their summer holiday, while 60 per cent will spend under $200 on food.
Canadians do appear to like camping, regardless of how much money they make, with 40 per cent of those with an income of $10  (go to article)

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Could cars correct bad driving?

BBC -- We keep being told the future of transport is autonomous; our vehicles are going to end up driving themselves. But it may be of comfort to driving enthusiasts that computer control has a long way to go, and there are still things that humans do best behind the wheel.

“In the short term at least, there are strengths that humans still bring to the table, and we don’t want to rule them out altogether,” says Stephen Erlien, of Stanford University, in Silicon Valley.

Still, sometimes even the best drivers can get distracted. Could next-generation cars step in to take over the wheel?

To find out more, I went to Stanford’s Center for Automotive Research to meet neuroscientist Lene Harbott. The plan was to hook me up to an EEG machine that measures electrical activity in my brain, while Erlien  (go to article)

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Brent Swings as Supply Seen Safe Amid Russia Standoff; WTI Holds

Bloomberg News -- Brent swung between gains and losses amid speculation that the downing of a Malaysian Air jet will have no impact on supplies from Russia, the world’s largest energy exporter. West Texas Intermediate was steady in New York.

Futures were little changed in London after falling 0.6 percent on July 18. President Vladimir Putin faces pressure to respond after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said there’s “extraordinary circumstantial evidence” that Russia provided the missile that Ukrainian rebels used to bring down Flight 17.

“We don’t expect really that the European Union or the international community to go so far that we’re going to see a disruption in energy supply,” Dominic Schnider, the Singapore-based head of commodities research at UBS AG’s wealth management unit, said in an interv  (go to article)

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