Archive for the ‘Washington watch’ Category

Petrodollars: Getting BP back into the good graces of the US government

In this week’s Oilgram News column Petrodollars, Gary Gentile looks at the process by which BP is able to do business with the US government once again.

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An SPR bazooka and the central bank of oil

In a perfect world of crude pricing, there would exist a mechanism to soak up excess length when prices were low, and add length into the market when prices were high.

In the world of money, this is called a central bank, with a dual mandate of keeping inflation low and employment as full as possible. There is no central bank for crude oil. But if there were, its dual mandate would be a price floor for producers and a price ceiling for consumers. Read the rest of this entry »

The next derailment for oil by rail could have some big repercussions

The refining industry is awaiting the next accident to hit the crude-by-rail sector, and there’s real fear about what might happen as a result.

Platts Barrel Talk is held in conjunction with the AFPM convention, and the panel tends to focus on whatever mini-crisis the downstream sector is facing at that time. (Last year, it was RINs prices).

Now, it’s rail. At the AFPM meeting in Orlando earlier this week, BNSF CEO Matthew Rose said North American CBR movements may hit 1 million b/d this year. That’s a lot of tank cars, which  means more potential for some of them to slip off the rail, possibly catastrophically.

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A different perspective on getting through the ethanol blendwall

Anna Temple of WoodMac tried at the annual AFPM meeting to put one aspect of the ethanol issue into a highly consumable number: eight.

The Houston-based downstream consultant, in one part of her presentation, said the Renewable Fuel Standard going forward could still trip up refiners, but she also addressed whether E85 has a part to play in meeting the ever-rising mandates set under RFS2.

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New Frontiers: New life for once-spurned Gulf of Mexico oil and gas leases

Starr Spencer attended last week’s Gulf of Mexico lease sale in New Orleans. She noticed something about the bidding: old, abandoned leases have gotten renewed interest. She reviews the trend in this week’s Oilgram News column, New Frontiers.

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SPR oil put up for sale on the day Ukraine’s new chief is in town

One trader speaking to a Platts reporter had this to say about the decision by the Department of Energy today to sell 5 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

“The Gulf Coast market has plenty of barrels,” he said. “They should have done it a few weeks ago when the Gulf Coast was tight due to all the weather delays.”

A few weeks ago, however, Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk wasn’t in Washington. He’s the interim President of Ukraine, and he’s in DC today.

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At CERAWeek, crude oil exports look a long way off

US oil producers may have warmed to Senator Lisa Murkowski calling in Houston this week for the lifting of restrictions on crude exports, but they shouldn’t start licking their chops, judging by the comments of other notables at the IHS CERAWeek conference.

Chevron CEO John Watson said the benefits of free trade should win the day, but he tempered that assertion with a heavy dose of political reality.

“No doubt that we’ll go through a long debate, but it’s a very straight forward economical argument,” he said while giving a keynote address to the conference.

OPEC and other producer countries probably are not shaking in their boots either, based on comments made by the Nigerian oil minister.

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With export applications growing are US regulators poised for a pause?

Since May, the US Department of Energy has granted just five applications to export liquefied natural gas to countries which do not have free trade agreements with the US. Meanwhile, the queue for these coveted approvals has grown 24 applications deep.

The pace has frustrated LNG export proponents, who have accused the Obama administration of standing in the way of the budding domestic LNG export industry, but it has befuddled them as well.

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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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A plan to abandon natural gas storage capacity fuels a bitter fight

Formal filings with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission do not typically make for compelling theater, but a bitter dispute is unraveling within recent documents over a Texas gas storage facility’s unique plan to deal with low natural gas prices.

Last month, the operators of Tres Palacios Gas Storage in Texas asked FERC for permission to abandon roughly 60% of its working capacity from the three-cavern underground storage complex about 100 miles southwest of Houston.

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