Energy Economist: short cuts to energy fusion

In this month’s selection from Platts Energy Economist, Ross McCracken recaps some recent steps in the long, slow slog to capturing the power of the atom not by splitting it, but by their combination.

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LNG to the rescue at a revived Caribbean oil refinery?

As various Caribbean refineries closed, reopening them faced a problem. Even if you could get cheaper WTI-based crude to them, they would be competing against US refineries powered by lower-cost natural gas. A refinery in the Caribbean would have little alternative except to use expensive fuel oil.

But industry sources are reporting that Atlantic Basin Refining, which is expected to be the new owners of the US Virgin Islands’ St.Croix refinery, known as Hovensa, is believed to have a business plan that will bring in cheaper sources of energy–specifically, LNG–to power the refinery.

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EIA analysis: Distillate stocks slide significantly

The most eye-popping number in this week’s Energy Information Administration stock report was the large decline in distillate stocks. You can see our analysis of the numbers here. 

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A competitive US steel sheet market heads toward end-of-year uncertainty

These are strange days for the US sheet steel market. While generally profitable for producers via the world’s highest prices, mills now face some serious challenges.

Prices for the market’s bellwether product, hot-rolled coil (HRC), have declined fairly steadily, from the 2014 high of $700 a short ton in early May, to as low as $635/st this week.

Transaction prices were heard to be as much as $30/st below this recent bottom for some higher-volume purchases. That puts some ex-works HRC prices closer to the $600/st psychological “floor” that the mills are hoping not to fall through.

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LPG: to one speaker, not just a fuel, but a moral necessity

The oil industry has often heard itself being criticized from within for not being bolder in sending a broadly positive message about what it does. Hydrocarbons make modern life possible; without them, we’re back to the mid-1800’s. And we should be telling the world that, pushing back against the naysayers. That’s the gist of the criticism.

That wasn’t on display at the World LP Gas Forum in Miami this week, where I was asked to moderate a panel of LPG experts entitled “Mind the Gap.” The gap in this question is the growing surge of LPG supply and the very real question of how it is going to get consumed.

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Regulation & Environment: Alaska mining battle and its impact on oil and gas

Regulations between mining and oil and gas often spill over. That’s what the industry is worried about in Alaska, as Tim Bradner discusses in this week’s Oilgram News column, Regulation & Environment.

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UK power margins tighten further for winter, but gas stocks high

A fire broke out Sunday at the UK’s 1,400 MW Didcot B gas-fired power station, in the latest of a series of unexpected problems that have considerably tightened the margin of spare supply available to the country’s electricity market this winter.

Damage to the cooling towers has resulted in the shutdown of 50% of the station’s output, removing some 700 MW from the grid.

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The Oil Big Five: Your comments about oil prices worldwide

This is a busy time of year, and between conferences and the reporting of big news events, we’ve been running in several directions at once here at The Barrel. That’s part of the reason why we’re just now getting to your comments about the October version of The Oil Big Five, when we got our analysts and editors to share their biggest issues in the global oil industry.

Today, though, we want to highlight some of your comments. Remember you can always tell us your thoughts through a comment here on the blog, or on Twitter with the hashtag #oilbig5.

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EIA analysis: big build in crude oil stocks

The weekly data from the Energy Information Administration showed a significant build in crude oil stocks. Our analysis of those numbers is here.

Leave it to $80 crude to shake up US petrochemicals

There’s something about $80/barrel crude that gets petrochemical markets in the US all riled up.

As the energy complex slowly emerges from its latest dip, let’s take a look at how some of these key markets fared over the past two weeks.

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