Miners become leaner and meaner to thrive in lower price environment

BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie is a multilingual, soft-spoken Scot who had a brilliant academic career before moving into industry. Rio Tinto’s urbane CEO Sam Walsh is a patron of the arts in Western Australia and is well-known for collecting antique jugs.

Neither men are what you might describe as “bruisers.” Yet both have rolled up their sleeves since taking charge a year or so ago, flexing their managerial muscles with the aim of turning their mining companies into much leaner and meaner organizations.

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Home (and oil) on the range

A few miles east of Texas State Highway 19, a conspicuous circle of valves, gauges and metal tanks sits in the middle of lush, green farm land. This property, owned by one family for almost two centuries, has become one of the latest stakes claimed by an industry that has already found great success with similar sites across Texas.

Behind the wheel of a bright red truck, on the way to town to see her grandchildren, Susan, the landowner, smiles and shakes her head.

“They say we live on an oil field,” she says. “I say we live on a ranch.”

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EIA analysis: Gulf Coast refineries are cranking it out

US Gulf Coast refineries operated at a record rate last week, according to the Energy Information Administration. You can see our analysis of the latest numbers here.

You know what blows up besides oil? Just about everything

Since I’m based in California and work the last US shift of the day with the Platts Central Editing Desk, it falls to me to watch for possible news items as the sun rolls out of the American sky and into Asia.

So nearly every evening, unless I’m so flat out with other work that I can’t, I troll Google to see if something wild has happened in the commodities world that I ought to cover for us.

This has me regularly searching for words such as “spill” and “explosion” and “fire.”

(And yes, I am absolutely expecting Homeland Security to come to my place any day now. It will be interesting to see how my company’s bean counters respond when they see the bail bond charge on my expense bill.)

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Petrodollars: China builds up its oil tanker fleet

Everyone talks about Chinese demand for oil. But the Chinese are also increasing their demand for the ships that move that oil around. James Bourne looks at the trend in this week’s Oilgram News column, Petrodollars.

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Goodbye to all that: oil, empire and August 1914

The onset of the First World War underlined the seismic change that was engulfing every aspect of life in the early part of the 20th century. As Europe’s great powers tumbled over the precipice into a catastrophic four years of carnage, few could envision the role that powered transportation would play in the conflict, or the toll that mechanized, industrialized warfare would extract from its youth.

In a war that left such an indelible mark on society, oil would for the first time play a significant role. To that end, the First World War is a significant landmark in the formation of corporations that came to dominate the 20th century. The age of the majors had dawned.

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The “sharing” economy and its impact on raw materials

What would happen if the American consumer, the most voracious buyer the world has ever seen, becomes more efficient at purchasing?

That is the question that could shape our future economics as the sharing of goods and services continues to proliferate with the aid of smart phones and social media.

Will ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft put taxis out of business? Will Airbnb, which connects vacationers to people with rooms — or castles — to rent, put hotels out of business?

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The Oil Big Five: Questions abound around US Gulf Coast happenings

We’re still waiting on tenterhooks to find out where the United Kalavrvta is going, but we wanted to share some of the comments we got from our readers on the latest posting of The Oil Big Five.

Again, we urge our readers to comment at any point on the posts (and on any post on The Barrel) and tell us what you think of the top issues as picked by our Platts editors and analysts. We welcome comments anytime on Twitter, too, and make sure we see your thoughts by using the tag #oilbig5.

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EIA analysis: lots of things behind EIA reported build in crude oil stocks

A relatively minor build in crude oil stocks came about as a result of several factors in this week’s EIA inventory report. You can read our analysis of the numbers here. 

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IEA again looks to OPEC to balance 2014 market

The International Energy Agency on Tuesday cut its oil demand growth forecast for 2014 for a number of reasons, not the least of which is a weaker global economic outlook than previously thought and lower oil supplies in the second quarter.

But even though the world won’t need as much oil this year as IEA earlier thought, that doesn’t mean it won’t need more crude from OPEC.

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