Archive for the ‘shipping’ Category

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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Regulation & Environment: Crude-by-barge not as controversial as its rail counterpart

Almost anything that moves has been pressed into serving the transportation needs of the expanding US production profile. That includes barges. In this week’s Oilgram News column, Regulation & Environment, Herman Wang reviews the safety considerations that the crude-by-barge industry faces.

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New York, Bakken and crude oil by rail: where is the love?

The crude-by-rail industry is not feeling so much of the “love” in New York’s “I Love New York” slogan these days.

Governor Cuomo has put a target on the backs of those moving Bakken oil in particular, which some recent tests have shown has the volatility of gasoline. That spells trouble for the crude, more of which is moving through the New York capital of Albany by rail and then barged down the Hudson River to East Coast refiners. It is access to more domestic crudes that has kept those plants open after pricey imports almost shuttered them a few years ago.

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Platts Crude Oil-Americas conference: loans, numbers and a possible XL-less world

A few notes from day one of the Platts Crude Oil Markets-Americas conference in Houston.

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The circle of Gulf Coast crude oil

The January 22 start-up of TransCanada’s  Gulf Coast Pipeline Project – originally the southern tail of the delayed Keystone XL pipeline — could not have come at a better time for the refining hub on the US Gulf Coast.

Dwindling production from Mexico and increasing domestic growth has flooded PADD III with light crudes while slowing some imports of heavy crudes, a disadvantage for the most complex refineries in the world.

Crude inputted into PADD III refineries was averaging an API gravity of 29.9 in 2013, according to the most recent data from the Energy Information Administration. That is a big difference between USGC-produced crudes such as Louisiana Light Sweet (34-41 API) and Eagle Ford (46 API).

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There’s nothing romantic about pirates, and they’re very much still around

Hollywood’s latest depiction of piracy on the high seas on the silver screen in Captain Phillips may not have been an accurate portrayal of the real character of Richard Philips himself, if the critics are right — I have never met him so am in no position to judge — but it did serve to alert a broader audience to the scourge and danger of piracy that remains a menace to international shipping and, more importantly, a threat to the lives of innocent seafarers.

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Northern Gateway approval expected to have significant impact on Canadian oil markets

The Canadian Joint Review Panel’s approval last week of the 525,000 b/d Northern Gateway pipeline, from Bruderheim, near Edmonton, to Kitimat, British Columbia could spell the end of steeply discounted Canadian heavy sour crudes. It also may reduce the urgency to build the Keystone XL Pipeline and Energy East Projects, though if projected production increases come into effect in Canada, Northern Gateway won’t be enough to handle that rise.

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Sweeping away 325 years of tradition at Lloyd’s of London

No sooner had General Motors announced the appointment of its first female CEO, Mary Barra last week, the Lloyd’s of London insurance market has gone and done the same thing.

On December 16, Lloyd’s, the world’s oldest insurance market, announced the appointment of Inga Beale as CEO, the first woman CEO in Lloyd’s 325-year rich history. Beale, 50, will take up the post in January, succeeding Richard Ward, who announced his resignation in July and will be leaving Lloyd’s after eight years as CEO.

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Russia-Azerbaijan tension closes off an oil pipeline route

In Russia, energy and politics are rarely far removed from each other. Moscow is renowned for its use of oil and gas as a tool (or a weapon, depending on how you look at it) to get its own way, particularly with its former Soviet neighbors.

Georgia, the Baltic countries, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan are just some of the ex-Soviet Union states stung by Moscow over energy. And Ukraine’s treatment has over the past 10 years seemed sometimes brutal, with Russia leaving it out in the cold by switching off gas supplies because of price disputes.

Now, it seems, it is Azerbaijan’s turn.

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Coal Trader: Making LNG the fuel of choice for US railroads

The nation’s seven Class I railroads spent $11.5 billion on diesel in 2012. Given that LNG costs roughly half as much as diesel, the majority of the railroads have announced plans to test LNG-fueled locomotives.

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