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The Energy Information Administration released its weekly report today on the status of petroleum inventories in the United States.

Here are some highlights:

CRUDE INVENTORIES:
Crude oil inventories increased by 10.3 million barrels to a total of 444.4 million barrels. At 444.4 million barrels, inventories are 80.6 million barrels above last year (22.1%) and are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

GASOLINE INVENTORIES:
Gasoline inventories increased by 0.1 million barrels to 240.1 million barrels. At 240.1 million barrels, inventories are up 11.1 million barrels, or 4.8% higher than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (-2.0mb); Midwest (+0.7mb); Gulf Coast (+1.2mb); Rockies (+0.1mb); and West Coast (+0.2mb). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this information likely drives prices up (in the case of falling inventories), or down (in the case of rising inventories).

DISTILLATE (diesel, heating oil) INVENTORIES:
Distillate inventories decreased by 1.7 million barrels to a total of 123.0 million barrels. At 123.0 million barrels, inventories are up 8.5 million barrels, or 7.4% vs. a year ago.
If you've been paying attention to crude and gasoline prices lately, you'll notice that some days, the two have been moving in opposite directions.

So, what gives? How is it possible that crude oil prices continue to hold steady while you're shelling out more at the pump? One word: refineries. Obviously, no one can fill up with raw crude oil, otherwise we'd be doing so gleefully as oil prices remain under $50/bbl, but unfortunately, that crude oil must be refined into something that is useful- whether it be gasoline, diesel, heating oil, jet fuel, kerosene, or even asphalt.

And therein lies the problem. As refineries have been set back by various incidents- extreme cold, fires, explosions, etc, they've collectively been through-putting slightly less crude oil. In addition, domestic production of crude oil remains healthy, and so do imports. We're awash in oil, and according to this AP story, running out of places to store it all. Obviously when you have so much of a product and less demand from refineries (because of such shutdowns), it causes stockpiles to balloon. 

Image From ..flgov.com
Florida Governor Rick Scott and Chris Gheysens, president and CEO of Wawa Inc., have announced that Wawa's continued growth across Florida and expansion plans for 2015 and 2016 are ahead of schedule.

“We met with Wawa executives to discuss all of the great things Florida has to offer their company and to congratulate them on their expansion in the Sunshine State. We heard directly from company leadership that, compared to other states, they’re finding more and more opportunities in Florida because of our efficient permitting processes,” said Scott.  

Wawa has 61 stores in Florida and will open its first store in southwest Florida, with the grand opening of three new stores in Fort Myers on April 23.Throughout 2015 and 2016, Wawa plans to open 25 stores per year spread throughout the Orlando, Tampa, Southwest Coast and Daytona markets.

It's been an ugly week for motorists, watching gasoline prices climb at their fastest pace in many months. The national average jumped 13.2c/gal in the last week, to $2.437/gal this morning, the highest number since December 19, 2014. Canadians have seen a similar fling higher, rising 4.5c/L in the last week to 104.6c/L.

"The spring spike has hit pumps across the nation, and it certainly has motorists wonder what in the heck is going on," said Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst.

New records were broken last week in California as prices spiked at their fastest pace ever, even faster than when Chevron's sprawling Richmond, CA refinery caught fire. Meanwhile every single state- all 50 of them- saw a price increase in the last week, with a common theme behind the increases: refinery this, refinery that.

FCA US, the company previously known as Chrysler, is recalling 467,480 Dodge Durangos and Jeep Grand Cherokees worldwide to install new a relay circuit to fix a fuel pump.

The automaker said the fuel pumps might be susceptible to deformation that prevents a vehicle from starting, or lead to an engine stall.

Of the two issues, the failure to start is the more common. FCA US said it is unaware of any injuries or accidents caused by the defect.

2015 Ram Laramie Ltd.
Auto expert Brent Snavely of the Detroit Free Press says automakers have confidence in the potential growth of high-end, luxury pickups that cost more than $50,000. 

Luxury pickups?  Isn't that an oxymoron?

He says the updated Ram Laramie Limited is a sign of the times in America's resurgent pickup truck market. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), General Motors and Ford have all discovered that there is a growing demand for luxury pickups with prices that top-out well above $50,000.
Californians are now seeing the most aggressive retail gasoline price hikes ever recorded.

In Los Angeles the average price of gas has risen 19.6 cents per gal. and that's the largest spike since Oct. 5, 2012 when the average rose by 19.5 cents.  In San Francisco the average price jumped today by more than 20 cents per gal., surpassing the previous record jump of 18.8 cents on Jan. 28, 2008.

The statewide average has risen today by 16.5 cents and is exceeded only by the 17.7 cent increase also recorded on Oct. 5, 2012.


U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Mark Rosekind joined elected officials, representatives from the rental car industry, and consumer safety advocates in calling on Congress to pass legislation that would require rental car agencies and used car dealers to fix safety defects before renting or selling vehicles subject to a recall.

JThe GROW AMERICA Act includes provisions that would require rental car agencies to remedy any safety defects under recall before renting a vehicle, and require used car dealers to do the same before selling a vehicle. Under current law, new cars must be fixed before sale. However, no similar federal provision exists for rental car agencies or used car dealers. In Richmond, major rental car agencies as well as a leading consumer group joined the department’s call for legislation to ensure rental cars with safety recalls are repaired before a consumer gets behind the wheel.

The transition from ‘winter blend’ to ‘summer blend’ gasoline always brings increases in retail gasoline prices, but nothing you’ve seen over the past year is likely to match what GasBuddy anticipates over the next two to three weeks.
“Wednesday brought a big price rally in gasoline markets and gasoline wholesalers are seeing huge increases,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. “Wholesale prices today alone have increased coast to coast from 10 to 27 cents per gallon; and when you add that on top of the increases that occurred earlier this month, it’s inevitable that retail prices will climb aggressively in weeks ahead.”

Subaru Legacy: best mid-sized sedan
What's the best car, period? Consumer Reports says it's the Tesla Model S. But, given that it starts at about $70,000 and can top $105,000 if you want the longest-range battery pack and all-wheel drive... most of us will need to consider other options.  

Fortunately, there are outstanding vehicles to choose from and some of them may even be affordable. Subaru rates very highly here, with Subaru vehicles ranking #1 in 3 of 11 categories. Are you thinking of buying any of the cars on the list?

In a very quick move, Iowa's Gov. Branstad has signed into law a bill that will raise gasoline taxes by 10 cents per gallon beginning March 1, from 21 cents per gallon to 31 cents per gallon.

The bill passed Iowa's Senate by a 28-21 margin on Tuesday around noon, was passed to Iowa's House, who passed the SF 257 bill around 2pm, and was signed Wednesday morning by Gov. Branstad.

The increased tax will help Iowa plug a $200 million-plus budget hole by providing about $215 million every year. While similar tax increases had failed to pass prior years, the climate of low gasoline prices likely played a factor, especially in how quickly the bill passed- in less than 24 hours.
The Energy Information Administration released its weekly report today on the status of petroleum inventories in the United States.

Here are some highlights:

CRUDE INVENTORIES:
Crude oil inventories increased by 8.4 million barrels to a total of 434.1 million barrels. At 434.1 million barrels, inventories are 71.7 million barrels above last year (19.8%) and are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

GASOLINE INVENTORIES:
Gasoline inventories decreased by 3.1 million barrels to 240.0 million barrels. At 240.0 million barrels, inventories are up 9.4 million barrels, or 4.1% higher than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (-0.8mb); Midwest (-0.7mb); Gulf Coast (-0.3mb); Rockies (N/C); and West Coast (-1.2mb). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this information likely drives prices up (in the case of falling inventories), or down (in the case of rising inventories).

DISTILLATE (diesel, heating oil) INVENTORIES:
Distillate inventories decreased by 2.7 million barrels to a total of 124.7 million barrels. At 124.7 million barrels, inventories are up 11.6 million barrels, or 10.3% vs. a year ago.
Here's one you don't hear everyday: California's Board of Equalization is looking at lowering the excise tax that motorists pay on a gallon of gasoline in the state. At this writing, the Board of Equalization is meeting, likely to make a decision to cut 7.5 cents per gallon off the amount of tax Californians pay on gasoline.

Since 2010, the “fuel tax swap” law has required the Board to adjust the tax rate by March 1st of each year. If adopted, between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016, the excise tax rate on gasoline will be $0.285 per gallon. The current excise tax rate of $0.36 is in effect until June 30, 2015.

Board of Equalization Member George Runner says he wants to put more money back into consumers' pockets. "Right now, what it really means is that people are overpaying their taxes, and that doesn't make a lot of sense. And when we discover that people are overpaying their taxes, we need to try to stop that as soon as possible, and that's what our efforts will be," Runner said.

Image From ..autoevolution.com
Ford Motor Company is once again giving fans and potential customers in 17 cities across America a chance to get behind the wheel of its latest products, with its third EcoBoost® Challenge consumer drive tour launching next month.

EcoBoost Challenge expands to 17 cities in 2015, and will provide five unique drive experiences in Ford products. Additionally, participants will have an opportunity to win an EcoBoost-powered 2015 Ford Edge, and can earn additional entries in the sweepstakes by bringing guests with them to the event.

Kicking off March 7 at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium, EcoBoost Challenge gets consumers behind the wheel of some of Ford’s most popular vehicles, including back-to-back drives with competitor vehicles. More than 28,000 people took part in last year’s EcoBoost Challenge.

Image From ..maryland.newshub.us
Maryland's top transportation official has ordered immediate inspections of 27 aging, state-owned bridges after a chunk of concrete fell on a Prince George's County woman's car from the bottom of the Interstate 495 overpass in Morningside.

The bridges — each were built before 1969 and go over other roads — include one in the city, eight in Baltimore County and one in Howard County. Many of the bridges already have been designated for repairs, but it could take years for that construction to begin, according to the Department of Transportation. 

Nearly 3 percent of the 2,903 bridges maintained by the State Highway Administration and the Maryland Transportation Authority are "structurally deficient," which the Federal Highway Administration defines as safe for travel but in need of significant rehabilitation or replacement.

"Consumers working together to save on gas"