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Ford's big Lincoln Continental is coming back

CNN -- The Lincoln Motor Company, Ford's luxury division, unveiled a big, richly-appointed, luxury car called the Continental in New York City Monday.

This car has a big job: To regain for Lincoln the respect it once had, decades ago, as a luxury car brand.

In recent years, Lincoln has mostly sold upgraded versions of Ford cars with little difference beyond the design and some added features.

The Continental is, officially, a concept vehicle but something very much like it will go on sale next year, according to Ford (F). And the production car will also be called the Lincoln Continental, making it one of only two Lincoln models, along with the Navigator SUV, to have a name instead of letters like MKZ or MKC.

The Continental is about the same length as a Mercedes-Benz S-class or long-wheelbas  (go to article)

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Oil prices drop on weak demand, potential Iran deal

Reuters -- SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices fell on Monday as the market focused on whether Iran and six world powers would reach a deal that could add fuel to an already oversupplied market if sanctions against Tehran are lifted.
The two sides tried to break an impasse in nuclear negotiations on Sunday ahead of a deadline to find a preliminary agreement by Tuesday, exploring compromises in a number of areas.

"Any relaxation of Iran oil sanctions could see increased exports adding to swelling global supplies and further pressuring prices," ANZ said on Monday.  (go to article)

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Northeast, Despite Highest Gas Costs, Resists More Pipelines

AP -- There is near universal agreement that the Northeast has to expand its energy supply to rein in the nation's highest costs and that cheap, abundant, relatively clean natural gas could be at least a short-term answer. But heels dig deep when it comes to those thorniest of questions: how and where?

Proposals to build or expand natural gas pipelines are met with an upswell of citizen discontent. At the end of last year, a Massachusetts route selected by Texas-based Kinder Morgan generated so much venom that the company nudged it north into New Hampshire - where the venom is also flowing freely. During this winter's town meetings, a centuries-old staple of local governance in New England, people in the nine towns touched by the route voted to oppose the project.

 (go to article)

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Crazy world of oil fall theories where studying the problem can alter its outcome

The National -- “Your theory is crazy, but not crazy enough to be true”, as quantum physicist Niels Bohr said. The fall in oil prices has spawned numerous theories, some crazier than others, about how US shale oil will react and what, if anything, Opec should do in response.

One school of thought is that lower prices are already having an effect on shale oil production in the United States, and that production will begin to fall, perhaps by the end of the year.

Evidence includes the bankruptcy of companies such as producer Quicksilver Resources last Tuesday, and the continuing fall in US drilling rig counts, now down 761 from last year’s 1809 rigs.

On what happens beyond this point, opinions diverge. Long-term shale pessimists believe the bubble has now burst. An overleveraged sector will collapse...  (go to article)

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Illegal Gas Siphoning May Have Caused East Village Explosion

Gothamist -- Thursday's explosion in the East Village may have been caused by repeated attempts to illegally siphon gas from commercial to residential tenants.
The owner of Sushi Park at 121 Second Avenue, Hyeonil Kim, told the Times that he and his employees reported a gas leak back in August. Con Edison responded and found that "gas intended for the restaurant was being siphoned off — he called it illegal gas-tapping — for use in the newly renovated apartments upstairs."
The landlord, Maria Hrynenko, then sent a plumber to fix the pipes, which resulted in a brief interruption of gas service for the tenants upstairs.
Kim told the Times that he suspected that the landlord began siphoning gas from the property she owned next door, 119 Second Avenue, the former space of East Noodle & Izakaya.
After smell  (go to article)

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U.S. Oil Glut Story Grossly Exaggerated

Yahoo -- Recently, I have noticed that oil storage & production data (and media hype for that matter) has disconnected from hard data. This has been occurring for many quarters now with the US economy statistics as well and appears to be the new world order where facts can be spun or massaged to any one’s wishes.

It’s called the “age of propaganda” where truth matters little and comes out later in so called revisions. Take the recent spate of economic data points from the Kansas City Fed which said that economic activity not only stalled but was negative at -4 vs expectations of +1. The recent durable goods statistics also show contraction as well.

Yet we see the services PMI at a 6 month high. How can these divergences be possible? Well for one, some statistics are hard while others are estimate  (go to article)

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Oil prices fall as Iran, world powers seek nuclear deal

Yahoo -- Oil prices fell on Monday, extending steep losses from the previous session, as Iran and six world powers tried to reach a deal that could add oil to the market if sanctions against Tehran are lifted.

The two sides tried to break an impasse in nuclear negotiations on Sunday ahead of a deadline to find a preliminary agreement by Tuesday, exploring compromises in a number of areas.

Benchmark Brent crude futures (LCOc1) had dropped to $56.04 by 0320 GMT, down 37 cents after falling 5 percent on Friday as the market began to price in the possibility of a deal with Iran. Front-month U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures (CLc1) were down 76 cents to $48.11 a barrel.  (go to article)

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5 Largest Markets for Natural Gas

TheMotleyFool -- Natural gas used to be an unwanted byproduct of oil production. Many oil companies simply burned it off because there wasn't a market for the gas. That has changed in recent years as the world has realized just how valuable this fuel is to modern society. Today the cleaner-burning, versatile fuel is used as a home heating fuel, a vehicle fuel, and a petrochemical feedstock, and for generating electricity. In 2013 alone, 3,346.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas were consumed globally, according to BP's (NYSE: BP ) latest Statistical Review of World Energy. Here are the top five natural gas-consuming countries in the world.  (go to article)

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Why Gas Could Plunge Below $2 a Gallon This Summer

Daily Finance -- The price of gasoline has plunged 30 percent in the past year to $2.45 a gallon nationwide, giving major relief to American consumers. Plunging oil prices have driven the drop and have given a reprieve to consumers who have been paying nearly $4 a gallon for gas for most of the past four years.

But the discount on gasoline may not be over. Just as the summer driving season approaches, drivers may get another reprieve. This time, the oil boom that is driving the U.S. toward energy independence could backfire and provide a massive discount on gas for consumers. Within a few months, we may be below $2 a gallon again.

Nowhere for All That Oil to Go

The latest problem for the oil industry is that there's nowhere for all of the country's oil to go. In 2014, the industry pumped 8.7 million b  (go to article)

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New Nontoxic Antifreeze

UPI -- POMONA, Calif., March 25 (UPI) -- Every year, some 90,000 pets and wild animals are poisoned by antifreeze. In 2012, 6,000 people were poisoned by the substance, many of them children.
In unsuspecting hands, the sweet taste and smell of the toxic liquid can entice one to imbibe. And that's bad news.

"Ethylene glycol, the predominant constituent of automotive products, such as antifreeze and deicers, is chemically broken down in the body into toxic compounds," Edward V. Clancy, professor emeritus at California State Polytechnic University, in Pomona, explained in a recent press release. "It and its toxic byproducts first affect the central nervous system, then the heart and finally the kidneys. Drinking sufficient amounts can be fatal."  (go to article)

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Once-bullish fund managers start to capitulate on oil prices

Reuters -- Last fall, when the price of oil started dropping, fund manager Craig Hodges figured crude would rebound in 2015 and began buying shares of companies he thought would be unfairly hit, including construction company Primoris Services Corp and Eagle Materials Inc, which produces sand used in fracked wells.

Hodges, who runs the $2.1 billion Hodges Small Cap fund, is now starting to concede that oil prices will stay low for as long as a year or more because of a global glut. Even the air strikes Thursday in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies, which prompted a one-day 5 percent boost to the price of oil, presented "a traders move" and doesn't signal a sustained move up, Hodges said. Oil fell 6 percent today to about $48 a barrel.

Instead of looking for a bounce back this year, Hod  (go to article)

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U.S. oil storage crunch might cut crude prices

USA Today -- The U.S. is running out of places to stash its overflowing oil supplies, threatening to further drive down crude prices that rebounded in recent days.

Supply — including oil produced in the U.S. and imported — has been outpacing U.S. refiners' demand by about 1 million barrels a day on average since early January, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Advanced drilling techniques that extract crude from shale rock have made the U.S. the world's No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas liquids. The surge has outpaced a less dramatic rise in U.S. consumption, and exports of gasoline and diesel. Also, many refiners have shut down some operations for a maintenance season likely to run another month or so.

The surplus oil goes into storage, with 8.2 million barrels stocked away la  (go to article)

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The 101-Year-Old Oil Woman Who Found Millions in Her Mailbox

Yahoo -- At 101, Anne Friar Thomas has seen lots of booms go bust in the Texas oil patch.

But the trouble out there in the Eagle Ford shale fields is getting mighty close to home. In fact, it’s reached her mailbox.

Like other big landowners here in DeWitt County, Thomas has profited well from the shale-oil rush. Every month, the royalty checks arrive -- payments for letting the likes of Marathon Oil Corp. and EOG Resources Inc. drill on her spread near the head of the Old Chisholm Trail.

But now, with oil down to $50 a barrel, those checks have shrunk by as much as a third.

Thomas says she still has money, and as her daughter Missi puts it, she doesn’t worry about how much comes in. Over the years, her family has made millions. It’s the shale-patch communities that have come to rely on people l  (go to article)

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Gasoline tanker slams into out-of-gas Prius

Riverside Press Enterprise -- A Toyota Prius hybrid electric car ran out of gas deep in the Mojave Desert and promptly got got rear-ended by a gasoline tanker, say San Bernardino County Fire Department officials.

The accident happened at 6:10 a.m. along Interstate 15 about 10 miles north of Baker.

"The vehicle (was) truck by the fuel tanker truck while trying to change lanes and exit the freeway," Capt. Daniel Nelson said in a written statement.

The impact crushed the back of Prius, whose driver was taken to a Las Vegas hospital for treatment of apparently minor injuries. However, the passenger suffered more serious injuries and was flown by medical evacuation helicopter to a Las Vegas trauma center.

All northbound lanes were closed for about two hours.  (go to article)

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Increase in Fracking Trucks has Drawbacks

Columbus Dispatch -- Cadiz,Ohio — The warning signs and convoys of semi trucks have become part of the landscape in eastern Ohio’s shale country, where a drilling surge has brought more big rigs to rural roads.

The orange placards and the trucks they portend might be the clearest sign yet of the dual role locals say the region’s oil and gas industry has assumed as both economic engine and potential danger for drivers sharing winding two-lane roads with 18-wheelers.

Those trucks haul stone, heavy equipment used to build well pads, drilling rigs and other materials. And tanker trucks are transporting water needed in the hydraulic fracturing process and the fracking wastewater that flows back up from the wells.

The Ohio DOT is spending more on road repairs in eastern Ohio, and the State Highway Patrol is tryin  (go to article)

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Credit Card Skimmer Found at Bay County [FL] Gas Station

mypanhandle.com -- The Bay County Sheriff's Office issued an alert Thursday concerning the possibility of skimmers on local gas pumps.

A skimmer is a device affixed to an automated teller machine (ATM) or gas pump which secretly intercepts and saves credit and debit card information when customers swipe their cards at the devices. The information is later retrieved from the device and used to conduct fraudulent transactions without the cardholder’s knowledge.

Deputies were informed of such device by a business who is a member of F.I.R.S.T., a partnership between the Bay County Sheriff's Office and participating businesses within Bay County that work together to prevent and discourage crime within our community.  (go to article)

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Report: Arctic oil drilling needed now to sustain U.S. energy security

Fuel Fix -- The oil industry has the technology to tap tremendous reserves of crude and gas locked under U.S. Arctic waters and should move swiftly to harness that potential, while working to improve the equipment it uses to drill wells and sop up spills, according to a government advisory committee report released Friday.

The analysis, conducted by the National Petroleum Council at the request of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, makes the case for the United States to aggressively develop Arctic oil and gas resources that can help supply the country with energy long after some onshore fields’ production starts tailing off.

A recent surge in domestic oil production is tied to the extraction of oil from dense rock formations in North Dakota, Texas and other parts of the contiguous United States, but “p  (go to article)

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Senate approves long-delayed bill to boost energy efficiency

Fuel Fix -- The Senate has approved a long-delayed bill to boost energy efficiency that includes incentives to cut energy use in commercial buildings, manufacturing plants and homes.

The bill was approved early Friday by voice vote. The bill now goes to the House.

The Senate bill was co-sponsored by Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio. A similar bill was defeated last year after it became enmeshed in a partisan fight over the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The measure exempts some energy-efficient water heaters from pending Energy Department rules and requires federal agencies to develop best practices to increase energy efficiency in federal buildings, among other provisions.

Shaheen and Portman say the bill would create jobs, save consumers money and reduce pol  (go to article)

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Cash-strapped oil firms top Moody’s watch list

Fuel Fix / Houston Chronicle -- HOUSTON – The oil industry won a dubious distinction Friday, topping a major credit rating agency’s watch list of the most financially stressed firms.

It’s a sign more oil companies could default on their debt if crude stays cheap.
 (go to article)

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How oil is preparing for a new world order

CNBC -- A new oil order has arrived and it will be marked by greater uncertainty and generally lower oil prices as the oil industry frantically re-prices as costs decline and gains in efficiency are made, strategists say.

As investors continue to weigh up the fallout of a rout in oil prices since June last year,
 (go to article)

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High oil inventories in Alberta point to lower prices

The Financial Post -- Oil inventories at key Alberta storage hubs of Edmonton and Hardisty breached 10 million barrels in each location last week, according to data from global energy consultancy Genscape, suggesting Canadian oil prices may trend even lower in the near future.  (go to article)

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State of Michigan roads goes from poor to terrible

Detroit Free Press -- This won't surprise you: Our roads are bad.

Rim-bending, frame-twisting, teeth-rattling bad.

And they are only getting worse. Much worse. Declining at a faster rate than just five years ago. According to 2014 data from the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council, only 17% of the state's roads are considered to be in good shape, 45% are in fair condition and 38% were considered to be in poor shape.

The reasons are myriad: a recent spate of historically harsh winters; a load weight limit for heavy trucks that is twice as high as any other state in the nation; the fact that we spend less per mile on road repairs than our neighboring states; the state doesn't always do an adequate job of following up on road construction warranty work, according to a recent state auditor general  (go to article)

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Oil analysts haven’t been this divided in 8 years: What’s an investor to do?

Bloomberg News -- Standard Chartered Plc’s Paul Horsnell forecasts oil will rise to $90 in the fourth quarter. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Francisco Blanch predicts $58. Six months ago, they were just $1 apart.

That sudden divergence highlights a growing trend: Energy analysts are the most divided in at least 8 years on the direction of Brent, the global benchmark. Forecasters failed to predict the plunge that cut oil prices by more than half after the U.S. shale boom boosted output to a three-decade high. OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, relinquished its traditional role adjusting production to moderate price swings in an effort to maintain market share.

This has left analysts split over how much and how quickly low prices will force U.S. producers to shut, making their jo  (go to article)

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Exxon unit asks for exception to North Dakota gas flare rule

The San Antonio -- A subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corp. is asking state regulators to grant an exception to the amount of natural gas companies are permitted to burn off at 140 of its oil wells in Dunn and McKenzie counties.

The state's Oil and Gas Division heard the request from XTO Energy this week in which the company argues it has nowhere to take its gas. This is because OneOK, a gas-processing company, couldn't secure an easement agreement and build a 20-mile pipeline expansion. OneOK said the pipeline would have moved 40 million cubic feet per day to their Garden Creek gas plant in McKenzie County.

The request will now be forwarded to the state Industrial Commission, which earlier this week more clearly defined gas-capture rules, imposing penalties for noncompliance and establishing flexibility to...  (go to article)

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Exports helping Nebraska's ethanol industry to grow

The Independent -- Nebraska’s 2 billion-gallon-a-year ethanol industry is growing in international stature.

Last year Nebraska’s ethanol agribusiness processed 657 million bushels of corn last year. While that corn made more than 2 billion gallons of ethanol, it also produced 18 pounds of distillers grain per bushel of corn.
Distillers grains are a cereal byproduct of the distillation process. The byproduct has established itself not only as an important source of livestock feed, but a growing export product, along with ethanol itself, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

And 2014 was a record export year for distillers grains and ethanol.

According to the RFA, the U.S. ethanol industry produced 14.3 billion gallons in 2014 — a 7.4 percent increase over the previous year.

At the end of  (go to article)

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With Proposal 1, more fuel tax money will go to roads

Detroit Free Press -- Getting more road-repair bang for the fuel tax buck is a central thrust of Proposal 1, which goes to voters May 5.

On a $3 gallon of gas, motorists pay close to 18 cents in state sales tax, which doesn't get spent on roads.

If Proposal 1 passes, sales tax would no longer be applied to fuel sales. It would be replaced with a higher fuel tax, which would get spent predominantly on roads.

Bills that would be triggered into law if the proposal passes would remove the 19-cent-per-gallon tax on regular fuel and the 15-cent-per-gallon tax on diesel fuel and replace both with a single, percentage-based fuel tax that could never drop below 41.7 cents per gallon and would increase with inflation.

Removal of the sales tax means the impact of that hefty rise in the fuel tax will be significantly s  (go to article)

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Duke Energy CEO Loses $600K In Pay Over Coal Ash Pollution

AP -- Duke Energy Corp. CEO Lynn Good saw her pay docked about $600,000 in the aftermath of last year's massive spill of collected coal ash that coated 70 miles of a North Carolina river in sludge containing toxic heavy metals.

A portion of Good's $8.3 million compensation was reduced 35 percent in 2014 compensation, according to a proxy statement released this week ahead of the company's annual shareholder meeting in May. The compensation of four other top executives that is linked to short-term incentives was also reduced 35 percent.

Directors of the country's largest electric company said the executives were docked because the spill will cost Duke Energy $192 million in cleanup, legal fees, and fines to settle a pending criminal case involving Clean Water Act violations.

 (go to article)

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Utah taxpayers will pay millions more in gas taxes

Deseret News -- Gov. Gary Herbert on Friday signed HB362, which raises fuel taxes by $24.9 million this summer and $76 million next year for transportation projects, and SB97, which increases the state property tax by $75 million for education.

Utahns will be paying 5 cents more per gallon at the pump starting July 1.  (go to article)

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Hot Fuel Settlements Cause Division Among Convenience Retailers

Convenience Store News -- KANSAS CITY, Kan. — 7-Eleven Inc. and Sheetz Inc. are among several retailers objecting in Kansas federal court to proposed settlements in "hot fuel" cases.

On Jan. 26, a Kansas federal court gave preliminary approval to settlements with 28 defendants — including BP Products North America Inc., Casey's General Stores Inc., ConocoPhillips Co., Chevron USA Inc., E-Z Mart Stores Inc., ExxonMobil Corp., Flash Market Inc., Shell Oil Products US, Thorntons Inc., Motiva Enterprises LLC, Sinclair Oil Corp. and Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores — regarding a consumer class-action lawsuit concerning how gasoline and diesel fuel are sold at retail gas stations.

The issue behind "hot fuel" refers to when diesel and gasoline are sold warmer than the standard 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  (go to article)

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Why Oil Could Be Facing A 20-Year Bear Market

Forbes -- In the past, the usual “oil crisis” was caused by self-serving news items of an oil shortage, causing soaring prices. Just 2-3 years ago, the fear mongers said that the world had “seen peak oil,” meaning that oil production would be on a long term decline and there would be big shortages. Instead, oil production is now at a high

The current crisis is one of plunging oil prices and a glut as far as the eye can see.

Oil production, after prices have fallen over 60%, is at a new high. As we predicted late last year, oil producers are making up for plummeting income by pumping even more. Rig counts in production are plunging, but these are from the low production wells. The high producers are still pumping away. In fact, the latest rig count even shows that there is little additional reducti  (go to article)

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Tolls would spike traffic on secondary roads, officials fear

The News-Times -- Danbury-area civic and political leaders are all but unanimous in opposition to the idea of reintroducing border tolls in Connecticut, citing among other reasons the inconvenience and expense to commuters.

But some commuters are taking the possibility of tolls in stride, knowing there are many ways of avoiding them if the plan comes to fruition.
 (go to article)

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MTA's toll-lane project may be a victim of its own success

LA Times -- But two years later, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority project is on the cusp of becoming a victim of its own success: So many drivers now steer into the Harbor Freeway's northbound toll lanes to escape morning traffic jams that the paid route is slowing down too. Over the course of a year, even as the per-mile toll crept toward the maximum, traffic in the paid lanes increased by almost 20% and speeds began to slow, officials say.  (go to article)

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Former U.S. Energy Official: Texas Needn't Fret Over Climate Rules

The Texas Tribune -- During this legislative session, Texas lawmakers are debating several proposals with major implications for the state’s power grid. So the Tribune asked an expert to weigh in.

Jon Wellinghoff, who served as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) from 2009 to 2013, sat down with the Tribune this week at the Energy Thought Summit in Austin.

Wellinghoff is now an attorney with the firm Stoel Rives. He consults on energy policy internationally and represents a variety of companies, including those dealing in renewable energy, data analytics and energy storage. He talked with the Tribune about what looming federal climate regulations mean for Texas, whether the state should link its grid to others and how to encourage more Texans to incentivize energy conservation.

The f  (go to article)

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Mexico signs second pipeline deal to import Eagle Ford natural gas

San Antonio Business Journal -- Mexico's national oil company PEMEX has signed a deal with U.S.-based investment firms BlackRock and First Reserve to begin the second phase of a pipeline that will bring natural gas from the Eagle Ford shale to cities hundreds of miles south of the border.

PEMEX CEO Emilio Lozoya-Austin signed the deal with representatives from both companies in Mexico City on Thursday.

Under the 25-year deal, BlackRock is investing $4.6 billion and First Reserve is investing $30 million in the Los Ramones II natural gas pipeline, earning them a combined 45 percent control of the ambitious energy project.

The 462-mile pipeline is part of Mexico's historic energy reforms and will run from Los Ramones, Nuevo Leon to the State of Guanajuato where a number of maquiladoras and automobile factories will use  (go to article)

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Mexico Pledges to Cut Emissions 25% in Climate-Change Milestone

Bloomberg -- (Bloomberg) -- Mexico has become the first developing nation to formally promise to cut its global-warming pollution, a potential milestone in efforts to reach a worldwide agreement on tackling climate change.

Mexico expects greenhouse-gas emissions to peak by 2026 and then decline, Environment Minister Juan Jose Guerra Abud said at a news conference in Mexico City Friday. The nation has pledged to curb the growth of pollutants 25 percent from its current trajectory by 2030.

The United Nations is encouraging more than 190 countries to submit by March 31 formal plans detailing how they will curb greenhouse-gas emissions. These documents are a key step leading up to a December meeting in Paris where negotiators expect to complete a global climate-change agreement,  (go to article)

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Suspected Tulsa Pickup Thief Captured After Driving By Victim's House

Oklahoma's Own NewsOn6 -- A man who stole a pickup outside a Tulsa gas station was captured after his victim's wife spotted the stolen vehicle.

Tulsa police took a man into custody following a pursuit Saturday morning in west Tulsa.

The victim told News On 6 he was inside a Fiesta Mart at 1500 North Peoria and came back out to find his pickup stolen. Surveillance video showed which direction the pickup went, and Tulsa police began the search.
 (go to article)

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‘Get them off rails now,’ Sen. Cantwell says of some oil tank cars

Curtis Tate | McClatchy and Tribune Newspapers -- WASHINGTON — Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., introduced legislation Wednesday that would immediately ban the least sturdy tank cars from carrying crude oil after a series of recent fiery train derailments.

The bill also would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to regulate the volatility of crude oil transported by rail, particularly oil extracted from shale formations in North Dakota’s Bakken region.

 (go to article)

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Frac sand exec to slumping oil producers: You’re not going to drill your way out of this

Fuel Fix / Houston Chronicle -- HOUSTON – The message that a scientific approach should trump the all-out wildcatting of the fading shale boom is echoing through more corridors of the energy industry. But oil producers may not want to hear it.  (go to article)

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Mercedes-Benz to launch new pickup truck

The Globe & Mail -- German car maker Mercedes-Benz plans to launch a mid-sized pickup truck, expanding its premium brand into a lower-priced bracket in a bid to narrow the sales gap with arch rival BMW.

Pickup trucks have gained popularity in recent months as gasoline prices eased, with sales of such models accounting for 90 per cent of global pretax margins at General Motors and Ford, according to analysts.  (go to article)

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Testing of Software Adds to Urgency in Race for Driverless Cars

NY Times -- In the race to build a self-driving car, German automakers are hitting a road block in their efforts to test vehicles so complex they need more than 10 times the amount of software found in a fighter jet.  (go to article)

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Alberta’s oil drillers brace for traditional spring slowdown to stretch until next fall — or longer

Postmedia News -- With world oil prices stubbornly stuck at around $50, Western Canada’s weather-related spring drilling slowdown could easily last until next fall — or longer — experts said Thursday.

The number of rigs working in Western Canada has fallen to 109 out of a fleet of 761 for a utilization rate of 14%, compared with 292 rigs working from a fleet of 812 for a 36% activity rate in the same week last year, according to a count published Monday by the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors.

The annual second-quarter slump caused by weight restrictions on melting roads started earlier, has cut deeper and will last longer this year, said Dana Benner, head of oilfield services research at AltaCorp Capital. He predicts “downbeat” Calgary Stampede parties in July.

“I think the summer wi  (go to article)

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AUTO SAFETY: Total recall not all there is to car repair

The Press-Enterprise -- Vehicle recall notices are a part of American consumers’ lives – there were 63.7 million issued last year, ranging from General Motors’ 26.8 million that included faulty ignition switch replacements, to Innovative Trailer Design Industries’ one recall for one vehicle.

But there are other car problems that may not reach the level of the mandated recalls for safety issues, but still need immediate attention.
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PetroChina mulls Canadian oilsands asset swap to ride out low oil

Bloomberg News -- PetroChina Co. said it’s in talks with international oil companies about swapping assets in North America to help it ride out the slump in crude prices.

China’s biggest oil and gas company said the negotiations are mostly focused on the oilsands in Canada, which is the world’s fifth-largest producer albeit at a relatively high cost.

The rationale is that swapping assets would be more efficient than outright sales, which, while oil prices are low, would “cause losses for international oil companies,” Vice-Chairman Wang Dongjin said in Hong Kong Thursday at the company’s earnings briefing. He didn’t name the companies that PetroChina is talking to.

“We may try asset swaps for our North America assets, mostly in Canada, as the low crude environment makes it hard to find willing buyers,” sa  (go to article)

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CHP OFFICER RESCUES WOMAN PASSED OUT IN MOVING CAR

abc7.com -- A California Highway Patrol officer smashed the window of a moving car to rescue a driver passed out behind the wheel on a San Diego freeway.

Officers found Amber Morgan, 25, stopped on the 805 Freeway near Clairemont Mesa Boulevard just before 1 a.m. Her engine was running, her windows were up and the doors were locked.

An officer woke Morgan by tapping on her window, but the car began rolling down the freeway. That's when he jumped into action and smashed the window on the passenger side.

After breaking the glass, he reached in through the window to unlock the passenger door and quickly pulled the emergency brake to stop the vehicle.  (go to article)

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Train hits truck carrying $300K McLaren

wokv.com -- ORANGE PARK, Fla. — A train plowed through a tractor trailer, which was carrying a $300,000 sports car, stalled on train tracks Friday morning.

Truck driver Ryan O. Fung, 40, was able to get out of his truck in time to avoid getting hit by the train, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

No one was injured in the crash, authorities say.

The mini tractor trailer was carrying a $300,000 McLaren which was damaged in the crash. Dr. Jorg Bober is the car owner.

"The company came by to pick up the McLaren for regular work, for warranty work. And I guess he got stuck on the train tracks," said Dr. Bober.

The doctor found out about the crash from one of his nurses.  (go to article)

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Atlanta and Detroit among the top 10 cities for electric vehicles?

GasBuddy Blog -- After more than four years of modern electric-car sales, it's clear that some areas are more favorable for plug-ins than other, according to Green Car Reports. From local incentives for electric vehicle (EV) purchasers to widely available charging infrastructure, or just a cultural climate more attuned to “green car” ownership, some parts of the United States have embraced EVs more than others. EV network operator ChargePoint has compiled a list of the top 10 U.S. cities for electric cars, based on the number of vehicles registered and available charging stations. (The company only counts stations on its own network, however, and accounts for population differences when comparing the number of car registrations.) While the West Coast still dominates the list, cities like Atlanta, Austin, Denver and Detroit prove that EVs aren’t just for “coasters.” ...  (go to article)

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UPDATE 10-Oil dives 5 pct as worries about Iran talks trump Yemen

REUTERS -- * Traders weigh possibility of Iran nuclear deal by next week

* Tehran eager to recover oil market share lost due to sanctions

* Oil prices down on day but up for second straight week (New throughout, updates prices and market activity with further decline after settlement)

Oil tumbled 5 percent on Friday, erasing the previous session's gains, as Yemen's conflict looked less likely to disrupt Middle East crude shipments and investors turned their focus to talks for a potential Iran nuclear deal that could put more supply on the market.

Oil prices still notched their second straight weekly gain, boosted by the dollar's weakness in recent sessions. U.S. crude had its biggest weekly gain in more than a month.

U.S. crude and global benchmark Brent oil spent most of the session in a...  (go to article)

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A veteran commuter puzzles over Virginia’s I-66 plan

Washington Post -- For me, this summer would mark 50 years of commuting on Washington highways, had I not retired a year ago. I’m so happy to hear that by 2040, at the time I would have 75 years of this joyful experience, the powers that be might widen Interstate 66 somewhat inside the Capital Beltway.
I can’t easily think of any major city where a main highway inbound constricts like I-66 does inside the Beltway. Contrast it even to Interstate 395 (Shirley Highway to us old guys), which is a joy by comparison and much improved since I commuted to summer jobs when LBJ was president. Maybe this will improve by 2040. One can hope.

Virginia’s plan for I-66 is the hottest topic in local highway travel. But whoa — let’s pause the march of progress to consider the changes experienced by a man who spent nearly hal  (go to article)

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Computers help Chevy Trax small SUV ace crash tests

Detroit Free Press -- The little Chevy Trax SUV just aced two important safety tests, thanks largely to super computers that allow faster and more accurate simulations of crashes.

The Trax, which is nearly 20 inches shorter than a Chevrolet Equinox SUV, rated five stars in government crash tests and got the coveted "top safety pick" status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Results like that can help a new vehicle attract buyers. The Trax seems to be doing that. Since sales began in December, Chevrolet says 47% of buyers are new to Chevy, 58% are women and 19% are younger than 35.

The Trax is one of the first entries into the subcompact SUV segment, which is poised to take off this year as other new models hit the road. The Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade and Mazda CX-3 will all compete...  (go to article)

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Alberta releases new plan for managing oilsands tailings ponds

Canadian Press - EDMONTON -- The Alberta government has released a new plan for managing oilsands tailings ponds that it says will encourage companies to generate less of the toxic waste water and clean it up sooner.

Environment Minister Kyle Fawcett says operators will have clear guidelines on how big their tailings ponds can be during mine operations and how large they will be allowed to be when it closes. Those rules will be backed up by possible financial penalties, he said.

That combination of oversight and enforcement over the life of the mine will force companies to keep pushing for the technological breakthrough on tailings cleanup that has so far remained elusive, said Fawcett.

“Technology unlocked the oilsands,” he said. “It will be key to finding the long-term, effective solutions to tailings ponds manag  (go to article)

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US drillers are fighting back against OPEC, low oil prices

Augusta Chronicle -- OPEC and lower global oil prices have delivered a one-two punch to drillers in North Dakota and Texas who brought the U.S. one of the biggest booms in the history of the global oil industry.

Now they are fighting back.

Companies are leaning on new techniques and technology to get more oil out of every well they drill and are cutting costs in an effort to keep U.S. oil competitive with much lower-cost oil flowing out of the Middle East, Russia and elsewhere.

“Everybody gets a little more imaginative, because they need to,” says Hans-Christian Freitag, the vice president of technology for the drilling services company Baker Hughes.

Spurred by rising global oil prices, U.S. drillers learned to tap crude trapped in shale starting in the middle of the last decade and brought about a surpris  (go to article)

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