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The US automaker’s secret weapon Chinese-made, US-bound: automakers eye exports

KUWAIT TIMES -- A gigantic robotic arm capable of lifting an entire chassis at a General Motors plant in Shanghai is the US automaker’s secret weapon as it seeks to sell “Made in China” cars to America. The yellow machine-dubbed “Fanuc” by workers after its maker-can lift a one-ton object and is being used to transport large parts in the body shop of the Cadillac plant.

GM hopes its high-tech approach will persuade American consumers to put aside quality concerns and safety worries over Chinese-made products, and other manufacturers hope to follow in its tracks-including Chinese firms themselves-as the auto industry globalizes further. GM and its Chinese partner SAIC earlier this year opened the $1.2 billion Cadillac factory to produce luxury vehicles, including the plug-in hybrid version of its CT6...  (go to article)

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A Secret Tool to Catch the Next VW-Style Emissions Cheat

MIT Technology Review -- Volkswagen’s vast diesel emissions fraud went undetected for years. To finally expose it, an academic group attached portable emissions measurement systems to a diesel Passat and Jetta, then drove the cars round-trip from Seattle to Los Angeles to directly measure exhaust in real-world conditions and prove that VW had programmed the cars to disable the controls.

New software under development could do the same thing in just hours by monitoring vehicle data to infer problems with emissions controls without any need to sample the exhaust or directly detect that emissions controls weren’t engaged.

“It definitely could have caught the VW cheating earlier. If there was a way for emissions enforcement authorities to install this software in cars, we could detect it automatically,” says Armin W  (go to article)

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NV Energy offers “green rider” for large customers

PV Magazine -- NV Energy rolls out new “green” opportunity for customers who wish to be served by renewable energy sources. The energy will be supplied from a new PV plant to be constructed in Clark County, Nevada.Nevada-based NV Energy utility offers its customers a new opportunity to subscribe for 50% or 100% renewable energy supply. The company says that it will provide these customers with the energy from a new PV plant to be constructed in Clark County, Nevada.
New service is available to customers with larger than 1 MW of demand and follows the guidelines of Nevada's NV GreenEnergy Rider initiative.
Today, NV Energy customers are served by 20 geothermal plants, 12 community-scale solar fields, a large wind farm in eastern Nevada and a dozen small hydro and biomass projects throughout the  (go to article)

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Variation across gasoline consumption estimates — a guide for the perplexed

US Energy Information Administration -- Gasoline consumption is a closely watched indicator for analysts who track oil markets and economic activity. However, data and estimates available from a variety of public and private sources often show considerable variation.
The data in EIA's Petroleum Supply Monthly (PSM) are widely considered to be the most accurate indicator of U.S. gasoline consumption. However, because the PSM is published with a two-month lag, analysts often look at estimates derived from other sources, including EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report (WPSR), to gauge near-term trends in gasoline markets. An understanding of the PSM methodology and its relationship to other calculations can be useful in interpreting differences among alternative estimates.  (go to article)

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Oil collapse most brutal in history for drillers, energy researcher says

FuelFix.com / Houston Chronicle -- At the height of its fury, the oil-market collapse over the past two years squeezed drillers harder than any previous downturn, creating an unprecedented financial crisis for oil drillers.

The oil industry has pulled back on spending more than in any previous downturn, with 2015 outlays down $220 billion last year and another 21 percent this year. Around the world, oil fields naturally decline around 10 to 12 percent. The question is, Nicolaisen said, is why global oil production hasn’t fallen sharply enough to correct the world’s oil glut by now.

“When you compare this to history, it makes some of the setbacks that we’ve put behind us in 2009 and the early 2000s look like a walk in the park.”  (go to article)

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Libyan Crude Output at Risk as East and West Tussle for Control

DownstreamToday.com -- Libya's crippled oil production appeared at risk of further decline on Wednesday after an escalating stand-off between rival eastern and western political factions prevented a cargo belonging to trading giant Glencore from loading.

A Tripoli oil official warned the country's oil output could fall by 120,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) if the Benghazi-based National Oil Corporation (NOC), set up by the eastern government, continues to block tankers loading for Tripoli from the eastern Marsa el-Hariga port.

The Seachance tanker left the port on Wednesday of its own accord and without loading any of its planned 600,000 barrel crude cargo for Glencore, a port official said.

Reuters ship tracking showed the tanker was still waiting outside the port. The Seachance was originally expected to load  (go to article)

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Raging oil sands wildfire sends differentials surging

Reuters -- Canadian heavy crude differentials hit their strongest level in two months on Wednesday as a wildfire raging in Fort McMurray in the heart of Alberta's oil sands region forced some projects to cut output and pipelines to shut down.

Although the blaze is not directly threatening any facilities in the vast oil sands, which hold the world's third-largest crude reserves after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, it disrupted some operations.

Producers cut production to allow workers to evacuate safely, and Inter Pipeline Ltd partially suspended one diluent pipeline and shut down its Corridor pipeline system, which serves Shell's operations.

A domino effect quickly emerged, as Husky Energy was forced to reduce production at its oil sands project because of the Inter Pipeline diluent  (go to article)

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Bakken oil field alone emitted 2% global emissions of methane

Michigan Public Radio -- Eric Kort was looking for methane when he and his team flew a NOAA Twin Otter aircraft over the Bakken formation in May, 2014.

What the University of Michigan climate researcher found was ethane. Lots and lots of ethane.
Kort says the air sample data he collected has solved a mystery. Wwhat caused global ethane emissions to rise between 2009 and 2014, after a significant decline prior to 2009?

"We found that the Bakken Shale was emitting roughly 2% of total global emissions of ethane," says Kort. "Which would be an increase from a very low emissions rate in the early 2000s, before the rapid expansion of oil and gas development in that area."
The Bakken Formation is part of a 200,000 square mile basin that lies under parts of North Dakota and Montana in the U.S., as well as Saskatchewan a  (go to article)

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Toyota hydrogen research leads to a better battery

CNET -- When Toyota launched its Mirai fuel cell car, it seemed to abandon the idea of a pure battery electric vehicle in favor of hydrogen power. But, Rana Mohtadi, a scientist working on hydrogen storage at the Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA), found that technology she was developing could be applied to an innovative magnesium battery.
Announcements of breakthroughs in battery technology come with a fair degree of frequency. In the last couple of years, researchers touted everything from simple carbon to a titanium dioxide gel to improve charging speed and energy density. Toyota cautions in its own press release that its magnesium technology would take 20 years to commercialize.
However, the massive increase in portable electronics and growing need for electric cars around the  (go to article)

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Tesla (TSLA) Stock Surges in After-Hours Trading, Q1 Loss Narrower Than Expected

The Street -- Tesla Motors (TSLA - Get Report) stock is up by 3.75% to $230.90 in after-hours trading on Wednesday, after the company reported a narrower-than-expected first quarter loss and in-line revenue.

After the market close, the electric vehicles manufacturer reported an adjusted loss of 57 cents per share, compared to analysts' expectations for a loss of 58 cents per share.

Revenue rose by 45% year-over-year to $1.6 billion in the most recent period, in line with analysts' estimates.
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Exxon, Chevron Under Climate Change Scrutiny in Norway

Oilprice.com -- Norway’s $870 billion sovereign wealth fund (SWF) is the largest in the world, and it’s now planning to use its prowess to force supergiants Exxon Mobil and Chevron to report more about the effects of climate change on business, both in terms of risk and opportunity.

The Norwegian SWF has said it would endorse proposals meant to compel Chevron and Exxon Mobil to report more on risks climate change policies have on their business.

“We encourage companies to consider the sensitivity of their long-term business strategy and profitability to different future regulatory and physical climate scenarios,” the fund said.  (go to article)

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Tesla Powerwalls for Home Energy Storage Are Hitting U.S. Market

Bloomberg -- To Steve Yates, the best thing about his new Tesla Powerwall is that he doesn’t have to worry anymore about the lights going out during a storm. Or maybe it’s how cool an addition it is to the entryway of his house in Monkton, Vermont.

“I’ve always wanted to have a backup power source,” said Yates, who was without electricity for 36 hours during Hurricane Irene in 2011. He also admires the Powerwall’s sleek white contours. “It’s kind of art-deco looking.”

A year after Elon Musk unveiled the Powerwall at Tesla Motors Inc.’s design studio near Los Angeles, the first wave of residential installations has started in the U.S. The 6.4-kilowatt-hour unit stores electricity from home solar systems and provides backup in the case of a conventional outage. Weighing 214 pounds and standing about 4-  (go to article)

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2 Tesla execs out after Model X delays, glitches

Detroit News -- Two top manufacturing executives are leaving Tesla Motors Inc., including the global head of production, at a time when the electric-car company is about to release its most important car: the mass-production Model 3.

Greg Reichow, Tesla’s vice president of production and one of its highest-paid executives, and Josh Ensign, vice president of manufacturing, will leave the company. A Tesla spokesperson confirmed both departures and said Reichow will remain until his replacement is found.

A person familiar with the situation who isn’t authorized to speak about the matter said the executive changes are linked to delays, glitches, and a recall that have bedeviled Tesla’s Model X. Tesla denied any connection between the departures and production problems with its SUV.

“This is not about the  (go to article)

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Takata air bag recall will more than double

Detroit News -- Washington — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is doubling its recall of cars with faulty air bags manufactured by Japanese auto parts manufacturer Takata by an estimated 35 million to 40 million cars.

The decision was announced Wednesday after the safety agency confirmed the root cause behind the inflators’ propensity to rupture, especially in humid climates. Flying shrapnel from exploding Takata inflators has been tied to 10 deaths and more than 100 injuries in the United States, and at least one other death outside the U.S.

The latest recalls are in addition to the 28.8 million inflators previously recalled, which already was the largest automotive callback in U.S. history. These expansions are planned to take place in phases between May 2016 and December 2019. The ex  (go to article)

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US refiner HollyFrontier reports 91% drop in profit

Hydrocarbon Processing (Reuters) -- US refiner HollyFrontier Corp. reported a 91% fall in quarterly profit, hurt by a steep fall in refining margins and lower refinery utilization rates amid a rise in diesel and gasoline inventories.

US refiners voluntarily reduced output in the first quarter after ramping up production last year to benefit from weak prices of their main feedstock -- crude oil.

Crack spreads, the difference between the prices of crude oil and refined products, have narrowed sharply due to a spike in distillate and gasoline inventories in the US.

Average sales price per produced barrel fell to $46.44 from $69.61 a year earlier, pressuring refinery gross margin, which fell to $7.59 per produced barrel from $16.69.

However, CEO George Damiris said he expects gasoline margins to continue to strengthen in the  (go to article)

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Rare Biodiesel Import to the U.S. from Australia Detected

Genscape -- On April 27, 2016, Genscape Vesseltracker detected a shipment of 4,200 tons (about 1.3 million gallons) of biodiesel from Australia arriving at the Texas Terminals Wharf in the Houston area. The Stolt Sun vessel carried the product that originated from the ports of Adelaide and Fremantle in Australia.

According to data from the EIA, the U.S. hasn’t seen imports of biodiesel from Australia since January 2013, and the shipments from Australia have only occasionally occurred in the EIA’s recorded history (February 2012 and May 2011).

What is interesting about Australian biodiesel imports?

According to the 2015 USDA FAS GAIN report, Australia only produced about 17 million gallons of biodiesel in 2014. When the report was issued in August 2015, the expectation was that there would be 26 mil  (go to article)

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Energy has peaked, and now we’re on the way down: Strategist

CNBC -- After a substantial bounce for oil and energy stocks, it may be time to play for a drop, one trader contends.

"The fundamentals are actually showing that we have peaked in this commodity rally, and are due for a correction," Boris Schlossberg of BK Asset Management said Tuesday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."  (go to article)

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http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-04/opec-said-to-head-for-june-talks-without-plan-for-

Bloomberg -- There are currently no proposals on the table for OPEC to revive limits on crude output at its June meeting after the failure of talks to freeze production last month, according to six delegates from the group.

A meeting of representatives from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna Wednesday discussed how the fundamentals of oil supply and demand are improving, according to two delegates, who asked not to be named because the talks were private.  (go to article)

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Oil turns lower after bigger-than-forecast U.S. crude build

Reuters -- NEW YORK (Reuters) - A bigger-than-expected build in U.S. crude inventories to fresh record highs pushed oil markets down after an early rally on Wednesday over concerns about production cuts in Canada's oil sands region due to a wildfire.  (go to article)

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Canadian oil sands town flees huge wildfire; Suncor cuts oil production

Seeking Alpha -- More than 60K residents of the Canadian oil city of Fort McMurray evacuated overnight as authorities battled an out-of-control wildfire.Authorities say the worst of the fire is not over, as the dangerous conditions that sparked the blaze - high temperatures, low humidity and high winds - are expected to continue today.Suncor Energy (NYSE:SU) said late last night that it was “reducing production” at all of its oil sands operations in the region; the company, which produces 453K bbl/day from its oil sands sites in northern Alberta, did not quantify the volume or timeline for the reduced output.Other major oil sands producers, such as Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) subsidiary Imperial Oil (NYSEMKT:IMO), Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) and Canadian Natural Resources (NYSE:CNQ), said their operations  (go to article)

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Almost all U.S. gasoline is blended with 10% ethanol

US Energy Information Administration -- Blends of petroleum-based gasoline with 10% ethanol, commonly referred to as E10, account for more than 95% of the fuel consumed in motor vehicles with gasoline engines. Ethanol-blended fuels are one pathway to compliance with elements of the federal renewable fuel standard (RFS). The total volume of ethanol blended into motor fuels used in the United States has continued to increase since 2010, albeit at a declining rate of growth. Meanwhile, the use of ethanol-free gasoline (E0) by fuel consumers has declined.
EIA tracks fuel components through data it collects from refiners, importers, large blending terminals, and ethanol producers. U.S. refiners produce large volumes of blendstocks for oxygenate blending (BOB) that are referred to as RBOB or CBOB depending on whether they are formulat  (go to article)

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US crude production sinks to 17 month low

Yahoo News -- Washington (AFP) - US oil output sank last week by more than 100,000 barrels a day to its lowest level since September 2014 as producers cut back in the face of low prices.

But a rise in imported crude helped drive commercial stockpiles higher, the US Energy Department reported Wednesday, sending crude prices tumbling.

US domestic production dropped to 8.83 million barrels a day in the week to April 29, compared to 8.94 million a week earlier, department data showed.

That took the decline from the peak of about 9.6 million barrels a day in June last year to nearly 800,000 barrels, and the department has forecast more cuts this year.  (go to article)

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'Textalyzer' Tracks Device Use in Accidents

Industrial Equipment News -- According to recent data, the average full-timer in the United States spends almost 26 minutes commuting to work. While this figure hasn’t changed much since the turn of the century, there’s one thing that has changed – smart phones are in nearly every car, and once they’re in hands, the rate of auto accidents skyrockets.

Authorities in New York are trying to take the ‘texting while driving’ problem head-on, by drafting legislation that essentially treats texting and driving in much the same manner as drinking and driving. Specifically, legislators wish to give police officers a device that’s the digital equivalent of a Breathalyzer, but for your phone. The “Textalyzer” could be used at an accident scene to test whether there had been phone activity – texting, snapchatting, Tweeting –  (go to article)

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Tesla (TSLA) Stock Sputters, Key Metrics in Focus For Q1 Results

The Street -- (TSLA - Get Report) stock is tumbling 3.09% to $234.32 on Tuesday morning ahead of the electric car maker's 2016 first quarter financial results set to be released on Wednesday after the closing bell.

Year-over-year, quarterly loss is projected to widen while sales are anticipated to increase.

For the recent period, Wall Street is expecting the company to post a loss of 58 cents a share on revenue of $1.6 billion. The year prior, the company reported a loss of 36 cents a share on revenue of $1.1 billion.
 (go to article)

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EIA: Crude oil, gasoline inventories up slightly

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

Here are some highlights:

CRUDE INVENTORIES:
Crude oil inventories increased by 2.8 million barrels (MMbbl) to a total of 543.4 MMbbl. At 543.4 MMbbl, inventories are 56.4 MMbbl above last year (11.6%) and are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

GASOLINE INVENTORIES:
Gasoline inventories increased by 0.5 MMbbl to 241.8 MMbbl. At 241.8 MMbbl, inventories are up 13.9 MMbbl, 6.1% higher than a year ago. 

Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (+2.4 MMbbl); Midwest (-0.4 MMbbl); Gulf Coast (-0.2 MMbbl); Rockies (-0.1 MMbbl); and West Coast (+0.6 MMbbl). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this information likely drives prices up  (go to article)

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UberX will be allowed to operate legally in Toronto, city council decides

The Globe and Mail - TORONTO -- Toronto will allow UberX to operate legally in the city while also cutting regulations for taxis, a decision that came after hours of heated city council debate on Tuesday
Critics shot back that the decision watered down labour and safety standards while protecting wealthy taxi-plate owners
Among the rules passed by council, UberX will have to raise its base fare from $2.50 to $3.25. UberX vehicles will not need cameras, though that possibility will be studied. And the company’s drivers will need only a regular class-G licence, plus a permit from the city
Changes for traditional taxis include looser rules for training and the right to mimic the so-called surge pricing used by Uber. There will be a report on compensating taxi-plate owners for “investments [that] have been negatively impacte  (go to article)

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Energy companies cut production, house residents who fled Fort McMurray

Bloomberg News -- Suncor has reduced output in Canada’s main oilsands region as Alberta’s largest-ever wildfire evacuation forced thousands of people from Fort McMurray
Oil and gas companies at the heart of the region’s economy including Suncor, Syncrude and Shell are putting up evacuated residents at work camps north of the community. Suncor said it is reducing output at its facilities in the region to allow workers and their families to get to safety
The wildfire is the latest blow to a community already coping with the economic toll of the oil price downturn in one of the world’s most-expensive places to extract crude. More than 40,000 oil and gas jobs have been cut in Canada since the price crash began in 2014
Energy companies are helping to fight the blazes and crews from other parts of the province ar  (go to article)

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Gas delivery apps are new on-demand fad

USA Today -- SAN FRANCISCO — The latest target for disruption by the tech industry: gas stations.

In San Francisco on Monday, smartphone app Filld began dispatching drivers with pickup trucks loaded with gasoline to fill people's tank. A Filld customer sets the exact location of his or her car, chooses a delivery window and releases the gas flap. A driver arrives in a small truck, pops open the gas tank and fills it with regular or premium unleaded gas. Filld charges per-gallon rates comparable to nearby stations and tacks on a delivery fee.

The app says it has thousands of customers short on time and fuel in the 180 square miles around the Bay Area and is most popular with minivan-driving parents.

"Going to the gas station is just a barrier for people during the course of the day," said Chris Aubuc  (go to article)

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The Saudis may know something about oil the rest of us don’t

Yahoo Finanace -- Investors may be salivating for a piece of Saudi Aramco when the kingdom of Saudi Arabia sells a small chunk of its gigantic state-owned oil company, probably in 2017. But potential buyers ought to beware.

“I think they’re hedging the uncertainty that their oil is going to be worth less,” Matthew Weatherly-White, founder of the Caprock Group, tells me in the video above. “Even more dramatically, there might be stranded carbon assets they own, and by that I mean assets that are simply worth nothing.”

Oil producers have already endured an enormous shock during the last two years, with the benchmark price for Brent crude plunging from $115 a barrel in 2014 to about $30 earlier this year, and now rising back to around $45. The oil bust has caused severe stress for oil producers such as Russi  (go to article)

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Cameras go dark, crashes increase

Columbus Dispatch -- While the evidence isn’t yet conclusive, it appears that more central Ohioans are getting their cars bashed up or being injured by crashes thanks to state lawmakers who effectively barred cities from using red-light traffic cameras to calm dangerous intersections.

While legislators were rightly indignant about municipalities that abused this technology to operate a ticketing trap, cities such as Columbus led the way in employing safeguards and an appeals process for those ticketed; this even extended to the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Bill Seitz, who’d been ticketed after wheeling through a red-light turn near the Statehouse.

Seitz’ bill allowed cities to keep the cameras, but required a police officer to be present to issue the citation.  (go to article)

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2017 F-150 to feature new 10-speed transmission, engine

Detroit News -- Ford Motor Co. will introduce the industry’s first 10-speed transmission on a mainstream vehicle later this year as part of a powertrain overhaul for its F-150 pickup.

The Blue Oval’s best seller will get the transmission — developed jointly with rival General Motors Co. — along with a second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine when the 2017 model-year pickup goes on sale this fall. When combined, the new powertrain will deliver similar horsepower, more torque and better fuel economy than the outgoing model.

“It reflects the pace at which you have to innovate in this industry,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book. “This truck was all new a year-and-a-half ago and now they’re doing a fairly substantial drivetrain upgrade. You’ve got a lot of innovation going on in a  (go to article)

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Peak Oil Could Hit In Just 14 Years, But It Might Not Be What You Think

Huffington Post Canada -- For years, the "peak oil" theory made people think that the world would start running out of oil, and prices would increase exponentially. But a research firm that serves Wall Street has turned the whole idea on its head — it says "peak oil" is coming, but it's not in any way what people thought it would be. Bernstein Research released a note last month identifying 2030 as the peak year for oil demand — after that, global hunger for the resource will just keep dropping.  (go to article)

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Oil prices fluctuate ahead of weekly supply update

Market Watch -- Oil prices fluctuated Wednesday ahead of key U.S. supply data as investors assessed the scale of the global supply glut.

Oil prices have jumped by more than 60% since their lows earlier this year on hopes that global oversupply, which has battered prices for nearly two years, will start to abate soon. However, prices have shed some 5% of those gains in the past few sessions.

“Prices will likely remain volatile, caught between a bearish narrative of prompt global oversupply and a bullish narrative of market balancing as soon as late 2016,” analysts at Barclays said in a report Wednesday.

Brent crude LCON6, -0.22% the global oil benchmark, fell 0.1% to $44.93 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures CLM6, -0.32% were  (go to article)

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U.S. energy CEOs ready for new drilling as oil prices plot upward path

Reuters -- After cutting spending and staff levels to the bone, U.S. oil executives say they are getting ready for new drilling projects as a 50 percent increase in crude prices since February leads them to believe the worst of the downturn may be over.

Any price rise above $50 per barrel could fuel a resurgence in the U.S. shale industry, which saw drilling and fracking of new wells put on hold over the past year as oil prices plumbed near $25 per barrel.

But prices have steadily risen to around $44 per barrel, near levels where money could start flowing again. While myriad factors could push prices lower again and many companies are stuck in bankruptcy, prominent executives say there is a pending upswing in oilfield activity globally and that work will come back fastest in North America.

"The ou  (go to article)

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Oil edges up as Canadian wildfire reduces oil sands production

Reuters -- Oil prices edged up on Wednesday as an uncontrolled wildfire near Canada's oil sands region reduced production there, but overall markets were weighed down by slowing economic growth in Asia and the United States.

The Canadian province of Alberta raced to evacuate the entire population of Fort McMurray, where a wildfire was taking hold in the heart of the country's oil sands region, reducing output at some facilities.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were trading at $45.07 per barrel at 0752 GMT, up 10 cents from their last settlement.

U.S. crude CLc1 was up 24 cents at $43.89 a barrel.

Wednesday's higher prices followed two trading sessions that added up to a nearly 7 percent fall for Brent and a 5 percent drop for U.S. crude from end-April levels, pulled down by rising output from the Middl  (go to article)

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Takata air bag recall could more than double

CBS News -- DETROIT - Three people briefed on the matter say that U.S. auto safety regulators are in talks with Takata Corp. to add tens of millions of air bag inflators to what's already the biggest auto recall in American history.

The people say the government wants the Japanese company to issue a recall that could more than double the 28.8 million Takata inflators that already must be replaced. They requested anonymity because talks are still under way. An announcement could come as soon as Wednesday.

Neither the government nor Takata would say if more recalls are coming.

The defect, which can cause air bags to explode and fire off shrapnel, led to the massive recall in the U.S. There have been 10 known deaths in this country and 11 worldwide. More than 100 people have been injured.

In November  (go to article)

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Fort McMurray wildfire remains out of control after city evacuated

CBC News - EDMONTON -- A huge wildfire in Fort McMurray destroyed an entire neighbourhood and burned homes and businesses in several others Tuesday, and continues to rage out of control
By late afternoon, the entire city of 60,000 had been ordered evacuated. Residents by the thousands fled the fire, and for hours caused gridlock on Highway 63, and even overwhelmed oilsands work camps, where beds and meals were offered
Fire chief Allen said the entire neighbourhood of Beacon Hill "appears to have been lost" and the fire burned many homes in other parts of the city
No buildings were lost in the city's downtown area. Despite the devastation, there were no reports of deaths or serious injuries
As of 10:30PM MT, officials reported the neighbourhoods of Abasand, Wood Buffalo, Dickensfield, and Waterways saw only some  (go to article)

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Oil price rally isn’t as deep rooted as it looks

The National-Bloomberg -- At first glance, oil prices have rallied - a lot.

Look closer, however, and the market is still pricing the “lower-for-longer" mantra, much as it did at the beginning of the year.

Front-month futures for West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, have risen 21 per cent this year, but the recovery looks very different if you focus on the longer term. The five-year-forward WTI contract fell 2.6 per cent over the same period, reflecting the view that shale oil production could rebound as prices recover, capping any rally.

“The markets may be getting ahead of themselves," Michael Wittner, oil analyst at Societe Generale in New York, said in a note to clients. “We still believe sustained front-month WTI at $45 to $50 will be self limiting, as US shale-producer spending and drilling would...  (go to article)

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West Africa Pirates Switch to Kidnapping Crew as Oil Fetches Less

DownstreamToday.com -- Pirate gangs in West Africa are switching to kidnapping sailors and demanding ransom rather than stealing oil cargoes as low oil prices have made crude harder to sell and less profitable, shipping officials said on Tuesday.

Attacks in the Gulf of Guinea - a significant source of oil, cocoa and metals for world markets - have become less frequent partly due to improved patrolling but also to lower oil prices, according to an annual report from the U.S. foundation Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP), which is backed by the shipping industry.

"They have had to move towards a faster model and that faster model is kidnappings," OBP's Matthew Walje said, noting that ransom payouts were as high as $400,000 in one incident.

"It only takes a few hours as opposed to several days to conduct the crime itsel  (go to article)

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SUVs, trucks keep auto sales hot in April

TRIBLIVE -- America's love of trucks and SUVs helped push most automakers to healthy sales gains last month as Honda and Nissan reported best-ever April sales. Ford posted record SUV sales, while Toyota broke a record for SUV and truck sales.

Honda led major automakers with a 14.4 percent sales increase as both its cars and SUVs sold well; Nissan's sales rose 12.8 percent. Fiat Chrysler was up 6 percent on record Jeep sales, and Ford rode an April record for SUV sales to a 4 percent increase. Toyota sales rose 3.8 percent largely because of the RAV4 small SUV which broke a monthly record with sales up nearly 32 percent.

General Motors, Volks­wagen and Hyundai were the only major automakers to report sales declines. GM blamed its 3.5 percent drop on a strategy of cutting low-profit sales to rental...  (go to article)

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Regulate gas prices, MPP Gilles Bisson tells province

CBC News - SUDBURY -- The NDP MPP for Timmins-James Bay is calling for gas price regulation after noticing a 26c/L hike in the north last week
Bisson said there was also a 10c/L difference between Kirkland Lake and Timmins
He posed the question in Queen's Park yesterday, asking why the province can't control the price of gas
And he compared it to the price of beer, which he says is the same in Kenora as it is in downtown Toronto
Energy Minister Chiarelli responded by saying that provinces that have tried to regulate prices saw them stay the same or rise to cover the cost of regulation
The Consumers Council of Canada said gas prices vary from place to place for many reasons
Bisson said the government should regulate gas prices, given that it eliminated public transportation through Ontario Northland
 (go to article)

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Oilsands work camps fill with fire evacuees

Canadian Press --
FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - Oilsands work camps were being pressed into service Tuesday to house evacuees as a raging wildfire emptied the city of Fort McMurray.

"We've made our work camp available to staff and their families who have been evacuated and need a place to stay," said Cameron Yost of Shell Canada.

"We are looking at getting non-essential people out by aircraft," said Yost, who added Shell's camp could accommodate hundreds of evacuees.

Most oilsands projects are well north of the community, while the worst of the flames were on the city's south side.

Shell's camp is about 95 kilometre  (go to article)

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Lyondell Houston SRU power outage triggers flaring

Reuters -- A power outage on a sulfur recovery unit at Lyondell Basell Industries' Houston refinery on Tuesday morning triggered the plant's safety flare system and an erroneous report of a fire to a Houston community information line, said Gulf Coast market sources.

This is the second malfunction reported this week at the refinery, which has three production units shut due a fire and leaks.

On Monday a piece broke off a pump, triggering the release of a large cloud of propane from the Butane Recovery Unit at the refinery, the sources said.Lyondell told the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that a failed flange connection on Unit 234 to the release of 21,100 pounds of propane and 63,700 pounds of propylene into the atmosphere between 3:45 and 5:07 a.m. CDT on Monday.

The Lyondell refin  (go to article)

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Fort McMurray homes destroyed as wildfire forces mandatory evacuation orders

CBC News - Edmonton -- A huge wildfire raging in Fort McMurray, Alta., has burned homes in some neighbourhoods, and residents fleeing the fire have caused gridlock on Hwy 63 leading south out of the city
Homes in Beacon Hill and the Centennial Trailer Park have been destroyed
The municipality said the fire breached Hwy 63 at the MacKenzie Boulevard intersection south of the city
By 3:40PM MT, the lower townsite and downtown area and 10 neighbourhoods in the oilsands city have been placed under mandatory evacuation orders because of the fire 
Abasand, Beacon Hill, Dickensfield, Grayling Terrace, Wood Buffalo, Thickwood, Waterways, Saline Creek, Draper and Gregoire are under mandatory evacuation notices and residents have been ordered to leave their homes
The municipality is asking evacuees not to go home to retri  (go to article)

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You can buy Tupac Shakur’s tricked-out Hummer

Detroit News -- Regardless of whether you believe Tupac Shakur is dead or still alive, one thing's for sure: His fully-loaded 1996 H1 Hummer purchased a month before he was shot in Las Vegas and the last car the West Coast rapper ever bought is about to go on the block.

Amherst, N.H.-based RR Auction, which specializes in the sale of pop-cultural artifacts and ephemera, will host the online-only sale as part of its “Marvels of Modern Music” auction, accepting Internet bids from May 12 to 19.

Shakur picked out and drove the jet-black, four-door, hardtop Hummer himself, customizing it with off-road wheels and tires; a 6.5-liter, turbo diesel V-8 engine; burl wood and beige leather interiors; privacy glass; a 12,000-pound winch; and a rear driver’s side fender emblazoned with the legend “ELIMINATOR.”  (go to article)

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Fiat, Google Plan Partnership on Self-Driving Minivans

bloomberg.com -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Alphabet Inc.’s Google plan to develop about 100 self-driving prototypes based on the carmaker’s Pacifica minivan, the companies said today.
The collaboration is the first phase of a joint project to create autonomous vehicles, people familiar with the matter said. The vehicles will be used by Google to test its self-driving technology. The companies would remain free to cooperate in driverless technology with other partners, said people familiar with the matter.
Google is not licensing any self-driving technology to Fiat, said a person familiar with the matter.  (go to article)

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Valero's profit misses estimates as product inventories soar

Reuters -- U.S. refiner Valero Energy reported a lower-than-expected profit as margins fell in the first quarter due to a build-up of diesel and gasoline inventories.

The company's refining throughput margin fell to $7.96 per barrel in the first quarter, from $12.39 per barrel last year.

Valero's refineries operated at 96 percent throughput capacity utilization in the first quarter, down from 97 percent in the preceding quarter.

Rival Phillips 66 reported last week a 40 percent drop in profit, while Marathon Petroleum Corp barely eked out a profit in the first quarter.

Valero's profit fell 49 percent in the quarter.  (go to article)

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UPS Unveils Updated Hybrid Electric Fleet to Extend Range

MarketWatch -- A compact, quiet-running 2-cylinder engine replaces a prior 4-cylinder engine to extend their range, improve performance and fuel efficiency. The updated trucks deliver significant fuel economy equivalency gains - up to four times the fuel economy of a gasoline-powered vehicle. They will be deployed in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio and Texas later this year.  (go to article)

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Need for speed? Pennsylvania raises speed limit to 70 m.p.h.

The Christian Science Monitor -- As of Tuesday, 997 miles of highway in Pennsylvania will have a speed limit of 70 miles per hour (m.p.h.).

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) approved a 70-m.p.h. speed limit for 396 miles of the Turnpike and 400 miles of the additional highways Tuesday, adding to the 201 miles of road approved for the higher speed since 2014.

“Before moving ahead,” says PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards in a press release, “we looked very closely at a number of factors, such as speed and traffic data and the physical characteristics of the highways, in deciding where 70 m.p.h. limits could be safely permitted.”  (go to article)

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Electric Cars Could Wreak Havoc on Oil Markets Within a Decade

Bloomberg News -- There are more than one billion cars on the road worldwide today, and only one tenth of one percent of them have a plug. OPEC contends that even in the year 2040, EVs will make up just one percent. But don't be so sure. By 2020, some electric cars and SUVs will be faster, safer, cheaper, and more convenient than their gasoline counterparts. What if people just stop buying oil? In the first episode of our animated series, Sooner Than You Think, Bloomberg's Tom Randall does the math on when oil markets might be headed for the big crash.  (go to article)

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Ontario licence plates need an overhaul

Driving.ca -- Up until 1973, in Ontario you renewed your vehicle registration and got a new plate every year. After that, we moved to a sticker system that admittedly was more environmentally friendly, but made for many sparse garage walls. And yet, head out to any parking lot or roadway in Ontario right now, and you will encounter too many vehicles sporting fading, peeling licence plates
The problems surfaced in late 2012, when the manufacturer, Trilcor Correctional Industries (licence plates are made by inmates just like in the movies; this one the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay) moved from a solvent-based paint to a two-part process involving an aluminum coat and a film. Those layers had trouble adhering to the raised edges on the plates, and started to prematurely bubble, peel and fade  (go to article)

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