When is energy pro-union? When gasoline buyers form a co-op

I was slowing down over at the Pricelock energy listings in search of a job posting for a flatbed driver — maybe a Ford, maybe not, who knows? — when something much more interesting caught my eye.

Four cities in New England were looking to buy 1.214 million gallons of 87- and 89-octane gasoline over the next three years.

That’s a serious chunk of change, and enough gasoline to fill 60,000 Crown Vic police cruisers.

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RINs eerily calm ahead of imminent storm

Biofuels RINs prices haven’t been misbehaving like they did last year.

After exploding onto the scene and becoming one of the most volatile commodities on the planet in 2013, those once-pesky RINs have been strangely subdued. The calm before the storm is especially peculiar alongside a rapidly growing confidence that the storm is imminent.

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The future of the oil business is in the hands of welders

A few years ago, I had lunch with a female friend in the magazine business. Our talk turned to our respective childrens’ futures, essentially the same conversation parents have been having since Adam and Eve bemoaned what might happen to Cain and Abel: what will our kids do with their lives? (Turns out those two siblings really did have bad stuff in their later years.)

This woman, highly successful in her field, noted that she’d be happy to have her son grow up to be a skilled craftsman, like a carpenter. No, I said. Skilled craftsman, yes, but have him become a welder.

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Presidential politics, Keystone XL and natural gas drilling in New York

With the latest decision on Keystone XL kicked down the road again, apparently awaiting the administration of either Malia or Sasha Obama (or maybe the Clinton grandchild), it was interesting to read a few articles the past few days on New York politics, spurring thoughts of another energy-related decision that continues to get put off.

It’s the question of whether New York will allow fracking in the Marcellus. And even though the issue wasn’t even mentioned in two particular pieces, one can read between the lines and speculate about what they might mean for New York’s oil and gas future.

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New Frontiers: the race to get takeaway capacity out to the West Texas oil fields

In this week’s Oilgram News column “New Frontiers,” Bridget Hunsucker looks at how exploding production in the legacy fields of the Permian Basin is outstripping an aggressive program to add new takeaway capacity.

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The wild Mary Sudik oil well was the Macondo of her day

On the fourth anniversary of the Macondo oil spill on April 20, 2010, it’s fitting to recall another historic out-of-control well in the early days of the oil patch: Oklahoma’s Wild Mary Sudik.

The well was named for a real woman who by all accounts was a humble and sensible human being. “Wild” described not the woman, but the well that blew out on her property on March 26, 1930, and flowed for 11 days before it was capped.

Wikipedia, using historical and newspaper accounts, including those of the Oklahoma Historical Society,  called the real Mary “modest.” It said she and her husband Vincent were Czech immigrants who bought a 160-acre dairy farm in 1904 and expanded it in 1924 to encompass the site of the future wild well. Because Mary signed the well lease first, wells on the property were named for her.

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What is India’s BJP thinking about the country’s energy policy?

India’s oil and gas sector saw some unprecedented decisions taken last year under the Congress Party-led government.

These ranged from a partial deregulation of diesel prices to a new gas pricing mechanism that would have seen the wellhead price of gas double to over $8/MMBtu. However, the hike — which was ratified twice by the Cabinet — was never implemented as scheduled on April 1 due to India’s upcoming elections.

The Congress-led government last year also started revamping and streamlining upstream policy to incentivise exploration and production.

All in all, 2013 was a busy year for journalists as we struggled to keep pace with and understand all that was going on in India’s energy sector.

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North Dakota oil boom keeps getting the wrong kind of attention

Despite already dealing with a slew of issues ranging from a housing shortage to an increasing crime rate, North Dakota officials now have another problem grabbing headlines: illegal dumping.

On May 11, several news outlets reported that 200 hundreds bags of radioactive material were found in an abandoned building in Noonan, a small northwest town in North Dakota. It is likely the largest case of illegal dumping in state history, twice the size of the amount found in Watford City three week earlier.

Continental Resources, one of the largest Bakken producers, immediately cut ties with RP Services LLC, the company state officials blamed for the Watford City dump.

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The continuing demise of US fuel oil consumption

When commentators talk about the US cutting its oil consumption, they often cite the reductions in usage that were spurred by the first oil shock in 1973-1974. “See,” they say. “We did it back then, and we can do it again!”


What they often fail to note is that one of the ways in which the US did dial back on its oil consumption is by drastically changing over its use of fuel oil for electricity generation to lots of other things: coal, natural gas, nuclear, alternatives. In 40 years, there have been plenty of things.

But the fact is if you’ve all but zeroed out your consumption of fuel oil, you can only do that once. That’s why the whole “we can do it again!” comes up short.

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Frozen Great Lakes and iron ore: just can’t let it go

Frozen may be an enormously popular film, but several videos of ice-encrusted ships on the US Great Lakes represent a horror show for much of the steel industry.

Up to four-feet thick sections of solid ice have mired huge ships from delivering essential coal and iron ore to steel mills. One video, shot as recently as April 12, showed the lakes had a long way to go before thawing, with the ice still 15-20 inches thick in some spots — enough to stall a big ship. (We were shown that video privately, so can’t link to it. However, a CBS News story that captures a few of the icy images can be seen here.)

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