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Summit Natural Gas announces further, but shorter delays
Projected dates for when a pipeline will start delivering natural gas to area businesses and municipalities have changed, but officials from Summit Natural Gas of Maine say the $350 million project is still on track to reduce area heating costs in the next few months. The company has contracts to deliver natural gas to about 500 area businesses in 17 communities in the Kennebec Valley, and it hopes its pipelines will deliver natural gas to Augusta and Hallowell by the end of December, said Mike Minkos, president of Summit Natural Gas.
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Support urged for tar sands moratorium
The Portland Press Herald
On Dec. 16, an important meeting will take place in South Portland, Ore. in the effort to protect the city from becoming the tar sands capital of the East Coast. All South Portland citizens and others concerned about Greater Portland’s drinking water should attend this 7 p.m. City Council meeting.
The council will take a final vote then on a six-month moratorium to bar Portland Pipe Line from piping toxic tar sands oil from Montreal through the Sebago Lake watershed to Bug Light in South Portland, loading it on ships there to send to world markets.
Propane shortage, frigid temperatures prompt LePage to declare civil emergency
Bangor Daily News
Gov. Paul LePage issued a limited emergency proclamation on Dec. 13, to ensure that heating fuel delivery trucks can operate for extra hours in light of frigid temperatures and a propane shortage across Maine and beyond.
The governor’s proclamation waives U.S. Department of Transportation rules and extends the hours of service for heating fuel transport and delivery trucks in Maine for two weeks.
USDA, Navy expand Farm-to-Fleet biofuels program
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced the USDA-Navy joint "Farm-to-Fleet" venture will now make biofuel blends part of operational fuel purchase and use by the military.
This is the first time alternative fuels approved for jet engines and marine diesel engines will be available through regular procurement practices. The regular procurement process lowers barriers for alternative domestic fuel suppliers to do business with DOD, a USDA statement said.
Federal vs. state: What's best to regulate hydraulic fracturing?
By Stefanie Heerwig
The House of Representatives recently approved H.R. 2728, which would inhibit the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from imposing federal regulations on states that already have regulations for hydraulic fracturing in place. In the face of President Barack Obama's veto threat and the likelihood that the Senate will ignore the bill, it stands almost no chance of becoming law. However, a crucial question remains: Should the federal level have a say or are states in a better position to regulate hydraulic fracturing?
Regulators launch probe into Bangor Gas' parent co.
Energy regulators in Ohio plan to launch an investigative audit into Gas Natural Inc., the parent company of Bangor Gas Co., a move one Maine official said is worrying.
The Bangor Daily News reported the 65-page order calling for an investigation of the company alleges multiple instances of mismanagement at the company, including unawareness and negligence of senior management to managerial and fiduciary duties, failure to have appropriate separation between its regulated and nonregulated subsidiary companies and a failure to show its purchasing practices were fair and reasonable.
Oil industry threatens lawsuit over S. Portland tar sands moratorium
The Portland Press Herald
A national petroleum lobbying group is gearing up to sue the city of South Portland if it moves forward with a moratorium on loading Canadian tar-sands oil onto ships at the city’s waterfront.
The five-page letter lays out a raft of legal positions against the proposed six-month moratorium and threatens legal action if it is enacted. The letter is dated Dec. 3, and was both emailed and hand delivered to the seven city councilors, City Manager Jim Gailey, City Planner Tex Haeuser and Corporation Council Sally Daggett. It is the second such letter sent from the group to South Portland officials.
Feinstein, Coburn seek to eliminate corn in biofuels mandate
The National Journal
A duo of strange bedfellows introduced legislation on Dec. 12, that would significantly reform — and reduce in scope — the renewable fuel standard, a mandate that requires increasingly large amounts of biofuels to be blended with gasoline.
The bill, introduced by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., would eliminate the corn-ethanol portion of the RFS but retain the smaller mandates that require volumes of advanced biofuels not derived from feedstock, such as cellulosic. Feinstein and Coburn have worked together in the past on eliminating subsidies for the corn-ethanol industry.
Exporting American oil: A primer
The Wall Street Journal
ExxonMobil says the U.S. should lift its decades-long restriction on exporting crude oil. ”We are not dealing with an era of scarcity, we are dealing with a situation of abundance,” Ken Cohen, Exxon’s vice president of public and government affairs, told the Wall Street Journal.
Here’s what’s behind the ban – and the energy industry’s effort to reverse it.
North America to drown in oil as Mexico ends monopoly
The flood of North American crude oil is set to become a deluge as Mexico dismantles a 75-year-old barrier to foreign investment in its oil fields.
Plagued by almost a decade of slumping output that has degraded Mexico’s take from a $100-a-barrel oil market, President Enrique Pena Nieto is seeking an end to the state monopoly over one of the biggest crude resources in the Western Hemisphere. The doubling in Mexican oil output that Citigroup Inc. said may result from inviting international explorers to drill would be equivalent to adding another Nigeria to world supply, or about 2.5 million barrels a day.
Oil prices down as Libya plans to resume output
The price of oil slid to around $97 a barrel Dec. 6, on the possibility of new supplies from Libya and expectations the Federal Reserve will cut its stimulus program.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery was down 49 cents to $97.01 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 6 cents on Dec. 12, to settle at $97.50.
Heating oil customers and drivers to benefit from US frack oil boom
The Morning Call
The development is the latest indication that at least some of the benefits of fracking, long associated with natural gas, will increasingly flow to consumers of home heating oil too, as well as to anyone who drives a car.
"It's really good news," said Tancred Lidderdale, an analyst for the U.S. Energy Information Administration. "It points to a promising future."
Already, across a swath of the country's middle section from west Texas to North Dakota, a domestic oil boom barely 5 years old is well underway, helping to stabilize petroleum product prices that, until recently, were on the rise.
Americans support more pipelines, including Keystone XL
8 out of 10 Americans support expanding the nation’s energy infrastructure, with new pipelines and other facilities to transport oil and gas across the U.S., according to an industry-backed survey.
The poll, conducted by Harris Interactive for the American Petroleum Institute, also shows a majority of people back the Keystone XL pipeline, which would ferry Canadian oil sands crude to the Gulf Coast. 7 out of 10 people surveyed said they supported the building of the Keystone XL pipeline, with 17 percent opposed to the $5.4 billion project.
Sea-3 plan sparks regional railroad concerns
The town will ask federal railroad authorities to take a closer look at the Pan Am railroad in light of concerns raised about the expansion of a local company’s propane exporting capabilities.
The Planning Board continued a public hearing on the proposal of Sea-3 to expand its propane operation at 109 Shattuck Way. Sea-3 is part of the liquefied petroleum gas division of Transammonia, a worldwide group trading in ammonia, fertilizer, LPG, petrochemicals and other commodities.
Oil shipper offers safety assurances
Owners of a burgeoning crude oil terminal at the Port of Albany made their first presentation on Dec. 12, to an Albany County emergency planning group, offering assurances their operation is safe and prepared for any spill, fire or other disaster.
While Global Partners has been shipping increasing amounts of North Dakota crude through the port during the past two years, it was their initial appearance before the county Local Emergency Planning Committee, which is responsible under federal law to make sure officials are prepared for disasters.
Propane demand hits a record high for November
U.S. Energy Information Administration
Propane is produced from natural gas at processing plants and from crude oil at refineries. It's been the fastest-growing component of overall U.S. propane supply and has set record highs on an almost weekly basis in 2013 as a result of increased oil and natural gas drilling. A record corn crop harvest has helped increased the demand for propane in the central U.S. as well.
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For major cities, offshore wind farms could provide both electricity and hurricane protection
The Huffington Post
Giant offshore wind farms could do more than provide electricity for major cities. They could suck the life and the power out of hurricanes barreling toward those cities, too, according to Stanford University research presented at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting.
Stanford civil and environmental engineering professor Mark Z. Jacobson and his research team found that if it was feasible to build tens of thousands of wind power turbines off the shores of some of America’s cities most vulnerable to extreme weather, those cities would see lower wind speeds and less severe storm surges from approaching hurricanes.
California waves could be turned into electricity
The U.S. Department of Energy is establishing a national test facility somewhere along the U.S. shoreline, and Cal Poly wants California to be that location.
Cal Poly is competing against universities in Washington, Oregon and some along the eastern seaboard, in trying to convince Congress to appropriate a $50 million grant to build and operate the state of the art facility.
OPEC to raise exports on heating fuel demand, Oil Movements says
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will increase crude shipments through December as peak refinery capacity is restored to meet rising heating demand, according to tanker tracker Oil Movements.
OPEC, supplier of about 40 percent of the world’s oil, will boost sailings by 380,000 barrels a day, or 1.6 percent, to 24.14 million barrels in the four weeks to Dec. 28, the researcher said in a report. That compares with 23.76 million in the period to Nov. 30. The figures exclude two of OPEC’s 12 members, Angola and Ecuador.
Convenience store alliance sweeps up new vendor
CSP Daily News
Convenience Store Alliance (CSA), the Phillips 66-branded retailer buying program, continues to support independent retailers by adding CAF Environmental Solutions as the outdoor cleaning preferred vendor.
With the great number of transactions taking place at the pumps, CSA said it believes that outdoor appearance is enough to drive or lose sales. M/A/R/C Research studies show that after street price, cleanliness is the leading reason customers choose to visit a convenience store.
Chicago e-cigarette ban snuffed out
CSP Daily News
Chicagoans will be able to continue using electronic cigarettes in public places.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s attempt to ban the devices in venues where smoking is prohibited ran into opposition in the Chicago City Council, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The mayor was pushing for the ban as part of an effort to curb teen smoking.
Driving convenience store foodservice purchases
Convenience Store Decisions
What do consumers look for in convenience-store foodservice? According to feedback in a recent Technomic study, the answer is more than a matter of convenience.
“Due to location and speed of service, c-stores are always going to be a dining option,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic. “Recently, however, we’ve seen a concerted effort to improve the quality of food and service provided at these locations. If c-stores can continue enhancing these areas, they can look to drive traffic from restaurants.”
Exxon sees future of rising demand, better efficiency; solar, batteries, biofuels still pricey
ExxonMobil says the drive for higher living standards around the world will keep demand for electricity and transportation fuels growing even as economies get more efficient and governments put a price on pollution. The company's annual long-term energy outlook, released Dec. 12, predicts world energy demand will grow 35 percent by 2040 as electricity and modern fuels are brought to some of the billions of people in the developing world who currently live without power or burn wood or other biomass for cooking and heating. Those growing needs will be somewhat offset by a slow decline in consumption in the far more energy-hungry economies of the developed world.
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