Category: Oil

Price tag for Russian gas to Ukraine could rise to $500

Published time: March 20, 2014 12:10

Reuters / Sergej Vasiljev

Reuters / Sergej Vasiljev

The price of Russian gas to Ukraine could rise to $500 per 1,000 cubic meters, as future developments in relations between Moscow and Kiev remain vague.

From April 1 the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas will go up to $360-$370 per 1,000 cubic metres, after Russia cancelled the discount agreed in late December, Pavel Zavalny, the head of Russian Gas Society told Izvestia newspaper.

In the worst case scenario, and Ukraine decides to take over Russian property, as well as new threats from radical nationalists, the price could jump to as high as to $500, the paper added.


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Russia to redirect trade elsewhere in case of EU-US sanctions

Published time: March 19, 2014 16:59

Russian President's Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolsky)

Russian President’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolsky)

Russia will switch to other trade partners if economic sanctions are imposed by the US and the European Union, the Russian President’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov has said.

“If one economic partner on the one side of the globe impose sanctions, we will pay attention to new partners from the globe’s other side. The world is not monopolar, we will concentrate on other economic partners,” RIA news quotes Peskov.

According to him, possible economic sanctions by the US and EU on Russia are unacceptable, and the Russian Federation intends to offer further economic cooperation with the European Union.

“We want to keep good relations with the EU and with the US. Especially with the European Union as it is the main economic, investment and trade partner of the Russian Federation. Our mutual economic dependence assumes that we shall have good relations,” the Russian President’s Press Secretary declared. He also emphasized that discussion of global economic problems without involvement of Russia can’t be a complete discussion.

In a Tuesday telephone conversation between Russia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and the US Secretary of State John Kerry they discussed the situation in Ukraine, and Lavrov said sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union against the Russian Federation are absolutely unacceptable and won’t come without consequences.

According to data from the EU’s Eurostat, Russia accounts for 7 percent of imports and 12 percent of exports in the 28 European Union bloc, making it the region’s third most important trading partner, behind the USA and China.

In turn, the EU is Russia’s biggest trade and investment partner, with trade turnover estimated at $330 billion in 2012.


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Oil firm agrees to abide by EPA monitoring arrangements for five years, allowing it to bid for drilling contracts in Gulf of Mexico

BP is still awaiting a US court ruling about whether it was grossly negligent over the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

BP is closer to restoring its operations and reputation in the US after agreeing a deal with environmental protection authorities that it will enable the oil firm to bid for new drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico.

The British-based group had started legal proceedings against the US environmental protection agency (EPA) which had banned BP from new contracts on the grounds that it had failed to correct problems properly since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.

BP said it had now dropped its law suit after resolving outstanding problems with the EPA but the firm will have to abide by monitoring arrangements with the agency for the next five years.

“After a lengthy negotiation, BP is pleased to have reached this resolution, which we believe to be fair and reasonable,” said John Mingé, head of BP America. “Today’s agreement will allow America’s largest energy investor to compete again for federal contracts and leases.”

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March 18, 2014

Huffpost Business

Government Declares BP a ‘Responsible’ Contractor: Workers and Taxpayers Beware

A scant five days before the Department of Interior opens a new round of bids for oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico, the EPA has blinked, pronouncing BP, the incorrigible corporate scofflaw of the new millennium, once again fit to do business with the government.

To get right to the point, the federal government’s decision that BP has somehow paid its debt and should once again be eligible for federal contracts is a disgrace. Not only does it let BP off the hook, it sends an unmistakable signal to the rest of the energy industry: That no matter how much harm you do, no matter how horrid your safety record, the feds will cut you some slack.

Back in 2012, the agency’s intrepid staff had finally gotten permission to pull the trigger on the company, de-barring it from holding any new U.S. contracts on the grounds that it was not running its business in a “responsible” way. Undoubtedly under pressure by the Cameron government and the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, BP’s most loyal customer, the EPA settled its debarment suit for a sweet little consent decree that will try to improve the company’s sense of ethics by having “independent” auditors come visit once a year.

To review the grim record: BP, now the third-largest energy company in the world, is the first among the roster of companies that have caused the most memorable industrial fiascos in the post-modern age.

  • Its best-known disaster, the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon, a drilling rig moored in the Gulf of Mexico that BP had hired to develop its lease of the Macondo well, killed 11 and deposited 205 million gallons of crude oil along the southern coast of the United States — the worst environmental disaster in American history.
  • In a troubling precursor, another explosion killed 15 and injured 180 at the company’s Texas City refinery in July 2005. This incident happened even after the plant manager there had gone on bended knee to John Manzoni, BP’s second in command worldwide, to plead for money to address severe maintenance problems that jeopardized safety at that plant after a consultant surveying refinery workers reported that many thought they ran a real risk of being killed at work. Those fears were warranted, it turned out.
  • Also in 2005, 200,000 gallons of oil spilled from a BP pipeline on Alaska’s North Slope.


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- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

A document obtained by several news agencies last week shows Democrats preparing to target tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations as part of congressional negotiations to meet a Dec. 13 deadline for a budget deal.

(Photo by Neil Parekh/SEIU Healthcare 775NW) Not on the list of Democrats’ targets: tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry.

The Hill reported that the list

contains 12 examples of the types of “tax loopholes” that [Democrats] would like to see closed in a year-end budget deal. Most have been proposed many times before.

Combined, the items on the list would raise $264 billion in revenue over 10 years, more than enough to switch off two years’ worth of the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.

Bloomberg reported that

In addition to closing what Democrats call the “John Edwards/Newt Gingrich loophole,” the party’s list of options includes carried-interest treatment that allows hedge fund managers and private equity advisers to pay a 20 percent tax rate on their income instead of the nation’s top income rate of 39.6 percent. Ending that break would save more than $17 billion over a decade, according to the Democrats’ estimates.

Another lets U.S. companies deduct their expenses when they send their plants overseas, which Democrats say encourages offshoring of American jobs. It would raise $200 million. Ending preferences for corporate jets and subsidies for yachts and vacation homes, combined, would bring in another $19 billion.

“The list makes clear that Democrats believe they can win public support by targeting tax breaks that they can portray as subsidies for the rich,” according to Reuters.

Republicans have been demanding cuts in Social Security and Medicare in exchange for changes to sequestration spending cuts, and that has failed to be met by a widespread Democratic pushback.

Progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have called for an “End [to] tax breaks and subsidies for oil, gas and coal companies to reduce the deficit by more than $113 billion over the next 10 years”—a call echoed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s “Back to Work Budget,” which calls for an elimination of corporate tax subsidies for oil, gas, and coal companies.

But preserving tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry appears to have widspread bipartisan consensus.

The fact that fossil fuel companies are not on the list of targets may be a result of Democrats’ “embrace” of fossil fuels, the Financial Times reported.

James Politi reported at the Financial Times that the omission may “point to an increasing willingness among Democrats to embrace America’s domestic energy boom as a source of economic strength.”

The FT also quotes the American Petroleum Institute as saying there is “growing bipartisan opposition” to taxes that target oil and gas industries.


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Published time: November 06, 2013 14:24
Edited time: November 06, 2013 18:53

Reuters/Ismail Zitouny

Reuters/Ismail Zitouny

A new law suit claims some of the world’s largest oil companies – including BP, Royal Dutch Shell, manipulated Brent Crude spot prices in collaboration with Morgan Stanley, Vitol Group, and other energy traders.

The plaintiffs accuse the companies of deliberately submitting false and misleading information about Brent prices to Platts, the energy and oil market news outlet, which is used by traders worldwide in daily transactions, Bloomberg reports.

“By providing false or inaccurate information and engaging in false or sham trading, defendants undermined the entire pricing structure for the Brent Crude Oil physical and futures markets,” the plaintiffs allege.

By fixing the North Sea oil benchmark, the oil companies and traders, not only manipulated the oil market, but petroleum, food, and other products that look to Brent as a guide for buying and selling across world exchanges.

Four traders – John Devivo, Robert Michiels, Anthony Insinga and Kevin McDonnell – filed the class act in a Manhattan court in New York on October 4.

Other companies accused of ‘fixing’ are Trafigura AG and Trafigura Beheer British Virgin Island, Dutch commodity trading firms, Phibro Trading LLC, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Vitol Group, a Swiss-based, Dutch-owned energy trader, S.A., and other unnamed traders.

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AFPCalifornia AFPCalifornia·

Published on Aug 30, 2013

Climatologist Dr. Fred Singer explains how climate alarmism is ruining California’s prosperity. California’s efforts to force CO2 emission reductions on its citizens will do nothing to impact the earth’s climate and will only drive more jobs out of the state.

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Truckers To Shut Down America's photo.

Ride For the Constitution

Friday, October 11 at 10:00am in EDT

>Washington, District of Columbia in Washington, District of Columbia

144 people are going
Truckers To Shut Down America

Truckers To Shut Down America

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  • Community
    The American people are sick and tired of the corruption that is destroying America! We therefore declare a GENERAL STRIKE on the weekend of October 11-13, 2013! Truck drivers will not haul freight! Americans can strike in solidarity with truck drivers!


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SHTF Plan - When The Shit Hits the Fan, Don't Say We Didn't Warn You - Preparedness, Planning, News, and Commentary

Convoy to D.C. – Truckers To Shut Down America in October

Mac Slavo
September 17th, 2013


Last year the American Truckers Association prepared a report for Congress highlighting the susceptibility of the nation’s just-in-time delivery system, the majority of which is made possible by the transport and delivery of freight. In the event of a catastrophic disaster such as a war that drives fuel prices through the roof or even a natural disaster such as a solar flare that renders electronic trucks inoperable, there would be a “a swift and devastating impact on the food, healthcare, transportation, waste removal, retail, manufacturing, and financial sectors,” according to the report.

The backbone of commerce in the United States are the truck drivers who spend long hours on the road ensuring our very survival as a modern society.

But with fuel prices continuing to rise, wages dropping, jobs becoming harder to find, and rampant corruption in Washington D.C. furthering the country’s economic death spiral, America’s truck drivers, like the majority of our fellow citizens, are fed up.

Between October 11th and 13th they have called for a general strike, asking truck drivers around the country to refuse to haul freight, a move that could carry with it a significant impact on the American economy.

The protest calls for truckers to make their way to Washington D.C. in a massive convoy in an effort to call attention to, among other things, the Benghazi cover-up, the recent attack which killed 25 members of Seal Team 6, ever rising fuel prices, and claims that President Obama has engaged in treasonous crimes.

Moreover, they’ve requested that the American people join them in solidarity by not shopping or engaging in any economic activity that benefits the government or their corporate interests.

The American people are sick and tired of the corruption that is destroying America! We therefore declare a GENERAL STRIKE on the weekend of October 11-13, 2013! Truck drivers will not haul freight! Americans can strike in solidarity with truck drivers!

Breaker 1 9 calling on all Trucker to shut America down for three days October 11-13. The American people are bleeding out with no relief in sight, It is time to change the NEWS. Let us show our elected officials that we are 100% fed up with corruption and the blatant disregard of the Constitution that they swore to defend.

Bob tail it hammer down to the bull$hit city with flags flying high.

My fellow Patriot this effort is to support the truckers in a major shut down of America ion a 3 day strike October 11th thru 13th.

Obamacare will be in effect and most people will be ready to take action. No commerce on those days stock up on items that you will need. No banking no shopping no money transactions. It does not matter If a million or 50 roll through DC in this effort. Congress will listen to We The People. Which is remove Obama from office for crimes of treason and misdemeanors. We want Congressional hearing on Benghazi and Seal Team 6. Louis Learner put in jail. No amnesty, remove all Muslims in our government that do not uphold the Constitution. Remove Eric Holder from office for crimes against the people and the Constitution. Last but not least is Fuel prices.

Via: The Truckers to Shutdown America Facebook Page

The protest comes on the heels of a massive biker rally held in Washington D.C., and other grass roots efforts to hold the government to account for various Constitutional transgressions including everything from stripping Americans of their right to bear arms, to forced health care mandates soon to be implemented across the country (with exemptions for members of Congress and corporations with insider access, of course).

Calls of accountability have grown louder over the years from all political sides, starting most notably with the Tea Party movement and progressing to Occupy Wall Street.

The corruption and need for real change in America’s government has transcended political lines.

If the hundreds of thousands of truckers across America who keep our delivery systems running efficiently were to join together and stop hauling freight for even a week, the impact would be devastating and could not be ignored.

There’d be no food on the shelves, no fuel at our gas stations, and no medical supplies at our pharmacies and hospitals.

Congress and the President, who would like nothing more than to be perceived as our saviors and benefactors, would have no choice but to address the concerns of freight haulers, because the American people would feel the effects of the protest directly. And, chances are they’d be in the streets protesting themselves because of lack of access to essential goods they can’t live without.

We may often feel as if we, as individuals, have no power against the mighty United States government, but as Karl Denninger points out, we have much more power than we think.

If we get just 10% of America on board the entire game changes.

Especially when the business world — and government — realize that the next one is Black Friday weekend.

Just 10% of Americans can change the course of history, much like they did during the Revolutionary War.

Whether it happens in October, during Black Friday sales this November, or at some point in the future, this seemingly untenable situation is coming to a head.

Robert Kennedy may have said it best:

A revolution is coming — a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough — But a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character; we cannot alter its inevitability.

Robert Kennedy
Senate Floor
May 9, 1966

The snowball in America continues to roll down the hill, gaining speed and mass.

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The New American

Tuesday, 10 September 2013 15:55

Written by 

The quiet revolution going on in the energy sector as a result of fracking is being punctuated by changes unseen and unappreciated, such as the recent announcement by Warren Buffett’s railroad, BNSF Railway. The largest railroad in the country, BNSF is testing the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to drive the company’s locomotives, which currently use more diesel fuel than any other entity except the U.S. Navy.

In the announcement, BNSF chairman Matthew Rose called the change “transformational:”

The use of liquefied natural gas as an alternative fuel is a potential transformational change for our railroad and for our industry.

This pilot project is an important first step … [in] potentially reducing fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

As the price of natural gas has fallen compared to the price of oil, the economic math is increasingly persuasive. At the current price for one million BTUs of natural gas, it would cost companies such as BNSF less than $20 for the energy equivalent in a barrel of oil costing $110. The explosion in natural gas in the United States has reduced the “landed price” of natural gas to one quarter of its price in the U.K., and one fifth of its cost elsewhere in the world. In the real world where BNSF operates, diesel fuel costs the company nearly $4 per gallon compared to just over $2 per gallon for large LNG users — a potential savings of 50 percent.

This is driving the BNSF test, according to Rose: “The changed market for natural gas in the United States is a critical part of our decision to explore it as a locomotive fuel.”

BNSF isn’t the first energy-dependent company to do the math, either. Waste Management (WM) has already started converting its fleet of 18,000 diesel trucks to LNG and expects to have the change-over completed soon. Said WM’s CEO David Steiner:

This conversion makes good business sense for our company and our shareholders because of the significant maintenance and diesel fuel cost savings. It’s much cleaner for the environment and our LNG trucks are much quieter.

Also doing the math is LA Metro, the public transportation system that serves Los Angeles. LA Metro, with the most LNG buses in the country — some 2,200 — estimates its fleet has already driven more than one billion miles on natural gas and has cut the release of particulates by 80 percent and greenhouse gases by 300,000 pounds every day. In addition, it has cut its fuel costs by between 10 and 20 percent.

This is just the beginning, according to the international energy consultant firm IHS. In its recently released study America’s New Energy Future, IHS says that the increases in natural-gas supplies and resultant lowering of energy costs have already increased household incomes, boosted international trade, and raised American competitiveness. In 2012 alone, according to IHS, the average family saved $1,200 in lower energy bills and lower costs for all other goods and services. That figure is expected to continue to rise as energy costs decline, with savings approaching $2,000 by 2015 and $3,500 by the year 2025.

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Warren Buffett Buys Over $500 Million of Suncor Tar Sands Stock, Latest in “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Warren Buffett – the fourth richest man on the planet and major campaign contributor to President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 – may soon get a whole lot richer.

That’s because he just bought over half a billion bucks worth of Suncor Energy stock: $524 million in the second quarter of 2013, to be precise, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Suncor is a major producer and marketer of tar sands via its wholly owned subsidary Petro-Canada (formerly Sunoco) and this latest development follows a trend of Buffett enriching himself through dirty investments and deal-making.

So far in 2013, Suncor (formerly Sun Oil Company) has produced 328,000 barrels per day of tar sands crude.

Though he receives far less negative press than the Koch Brothers, Buffett’s no deep green ecologist. Not in the slightest.

Referred to as one of 17 “Climate Killers” by Rolling Stone‘s Tim Dickinson in a January 2010 story, Buffett owns the behemoth holding company, Berkshire Hathway. It’s through Berkshire that he’s making a killing – while simultaneously killing the ecosystem – through one of its most profitable wholly-owned assets: Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF).

Buffett purchased BNSF for $26 billion and was “the largest acquisition of Buffett’s storied career,” Dickinson wrote.

BNSF hauls around frac sand for the controversial horizontal oil and gas drilling process known as “fracking.” The rail company also moves fracked oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin, tar sands logistical equipment and tar sands crude itself and tons of coal. And not only does Buffett’s BNSF haul around ungodly amounts of coal, he actually owns coal-burning utility companies, too.

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By Thomas Hüetlin

Photo Gallery: Cars for Co-Consumers 
Maurice Weiss/ DER SPIEGEL

As collaborative consumption becomes increasingly mainstream, many young Germans are starting to see vehicle ownership as inconvenient and old-fashioned. Keen to keep up, the auto industry is turning to car-sharing.

Imagine a road trip that starts on a narrow backstreet in Rome, bathed in the rosy light of dawn. Visualize driving along roads lined with pine trees, past hill-top villages, motoring from the ocean to snow-capped mountains. Then on to Paris, London, and finally to the green hills of Scotland, stretched out before you like a giant golf course.


Own a car, and live the dream. Climb into a cozy interior, as familiar and comfortable as your own living room. Then head out into the great unknown in search of adventure, away from everyday life, all your senses thrilling at the grand vistas, the freedom and the speed.

Matthias Lorenz-Meyer freezes these images on his computer screen with a click of his mouse. His trip from Rome to Edinburgh lasted three weeks, and required two tanks of gas. But the vehicle didn’t belong to him. It belonged to Ford. He was paid handsomely for the journey — the film was a commercial. He sold his own car, a Renault Twingo, last year. “I’m glad I got rid of it,” he says. “It was a drag.”

Lorenz-Meyer is an advertising model and Internet entrepreneur, not a dropout or a fanatic. He is one of the many Germans under 40 living in cities who are both a puzzle and a worry to the auto industry. The reason? They no longer care about owning their own vehicles.

In Germany, the home of the automobile and where the auto industry is still a key sector of the economy, this is almost akin to a betrayal.

Around 46 percent of people living in the capital Berlin manage without their own vehicle. In New York, the figure is as high as 56 percent. Urban residents who still have vehicles don’t use them very often, either. In Munich, the average vehicle is in use for just 45 minutes a day. The rest of the time it’s just sitting there costing money in insurance, tax, depreciation and probably parking fees.

Many residents of larger cities see owning their own vehicle as something they can do without, as annoying excess baggage. Vehicle sales have dropped dramatically among the target customers of tomorrow. The purchasers of new vehicles are getting older. Since 1995, the average age has risen from 46 to 52.

For young people, other things matter more. “Young people today want to be mobile, and a cell phone gives them completely different possibilities when it comes to a vehicle,” says Michael Kuhndt, head of the Wuppertal Institute Collaborating Center on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP).

In the old days, the automobile was something everyone had to have. It symbolized independence and adulthood. These days, young people are geographically and virtually mobile, for which they need a mobile phone. A vehicle doesn’t help them travel to Honduras, New Zealand or Vietnam.

“Mobile phones really open up the possibilities for living in various parts of the world,” says Kuhndt. “Young people think of automobiles as too heavy, too much of a burden.”

Fighting Back

The auto industry, unwilling to lose its young customers, is fighting back with car-sharing — hoping to restore interest in the automobile with an alternative payment system. Mercedes, through its subsidiary car2go, supplies Smarts in Munich, Hamburg, Cologne, Berlin and elsewhere. BMW supplies Mini Coopers, BMW 1 Series and X1s through its DriveNow program. Citroën offers the electric C-Zero through Multicity. And the German railway company Deutsche Bahn offers various models through its Flinkster system, from Fiat 500s to Volkswagen Golfs.

Usage is generally calculated on a time basis: 29 euro cents a minute with car2go, 28 cents with Multicity, 31 cents a minute with DriveNow. Customers register with one or more firms, pay a registration fee and receive an electronic chip by post. Via a smartphone app, they can find out where the closest vehicle is. When they finish their journey, they park, get out and go. The bill is then sent by email to their phone. It’s an uncomplicated service that clearly works: At the end of 2011, Germany had around 260,000 registered car-sharers; at the beginning of 2013, there were already more than 450,000.

According to figures published by the Fraunhofer Institute, the number of automobiles in Germany will halve by 2050. “The cities are green, pleasant places to live, pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly; there are ample car-sharing parking spots and cycle stations at every larger transport hub,” say the authors of the study “A sustainable transport vision for Germany.” Even in the United States — the No. 1 energy consumer among industrial nations — one shared car will replace at least eight private passenger vehicles in the future, according to calculations by the study’s authors.

Car-sharing is part of a social trend in which consumers prefer to share certain items with each other rather than own them. Smartphones make this possible, allowing individuals to move around the modern city and get whatever they need at different points during the day.

The trend reflects the flexibility of new lifestyles and careers. For Internet entrepreneur Matthias Lorenz-Meyer, the smartphone forms the center of his existence. For Constanze Siedenburg, graphic designer and spokesperson for the Green Party on school and sports policies in Berlin’s Pankow district, life revolves around her local area and family, but as a road user she has much in common with Lorenz-Meyer. She too has sold her car and now drives vehicles that don’t belong to her. The lifestyle choices of both the happily single Internet entrepreneur and the environmentally-aware mother of two illustrate what mobility in major Western cities could look like in the years to come.

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Published: Wednesday, 24 Jul 2013 | 3:02 PM ET

By: | CNBC Senior Talent Producer

Getty Images
Gas prices are displayed at a USA Gasoline station in Los Angeles, California.

Gasoline costs in the U.S. could fall as much as 30 cents a gallon if lawmakers would repeal a controversial shipping law, industry experts say.

The longstanding Jones Act—a section of The Merchant Marine Act of 1920—which requires any ship that carries goods or commodities in U.S. waters be American made, owned, operated and carry a U.S. flag, is being highlighted by one oil CEO as a reason behind the high price of gasoline in the U.S. and particularly in Florida.

“If foreign owned and flag ships were able to carry gasoline in US waters, the price of gasoline in the North East and in Florida could be 20 to 30 cents lower,” Joe Petrowski, CEO of Gulf Oil, said.

(Read more: Watch out, US crude prices could correct 35%: Pro)

Petrowski added it also makes environmental sense.

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Oil drops from its 16-month high. The crude outlook, with CNBC’s Jackie DeAngelis and the Futures Now Traders.

“This goes beyond gasoline,” he said. “Consumer products which are transported by trucks could also be shipped on U.S. waters, which would ease congestion on roads, reduce emissions and save money.”

Vessels made in the United States are more than triple the price tag of their international competitors.

A mid-sized product tanker called an MR Tanker costs $130 million in the United States versus $34 million in Korea, and a 4800 TEU (20-foot equivalent unit) container ship would have a price tag of $200 million in the U.S. vs. $46 million in South Korea, according to Marine Money International.

Shipping insiders say the “American Made” mandate has had a negative impact on the U.S. transportation system.

(Read more: No glut here: Why Gulf refiners face a squeeze)

“The high cost of U.S. ship construction coupled to the Jones Act’s absolute prohibition on the importation of foreign-built vessels has led to an inefficient major domestic transportation market sector saddled with an artificial shortage of ships, while the world is actually well supplied with modern and safe tonnage.” said Michael Hansen, president of the Hawaii Shippers Council.

The council has its own reform proposal addressing the impact of the Jones Act on Alaska, Guam, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

This is not the first time the price tag of the Jones Act has been talked about.

Ed Morse, chief commodity analyst at Citigroup, has said publicly the Jones Act adds between $6 and $8 a barrel to transport costs. Morse has said that based on his calculations, it’s often cheaper for a Gulf Coast refiner to send gasoline to Brazil than to New York.

Per Heidenreich of private investment company Heidenreich Enterprise said that while he has no personal knowledge of how Petrowski came up with his calculations, he doesn’t disagree and stressed the price of gasoline is also being jacked up in California.

(Read more: CFTC charges energy trading firm with ‘spoofing’)

Relief at the pump coming?
The Futures Now team discusses whether relief at the gas pump is on the way. Has gasoline peaked? Jeff Kilburg at the CME and Anthony Grisanti at the NYMEX, discuss.

“I will not doubt his calculations considering the domestic freight on tankers have increased on time charter basis to about $100,000 per day (compared to foreign-flag equivalent ships that earn about $12,000 per day),” Hedenreich said.

“There are also 17 or so Jones Act tankers that carry crude from Alaska to California that add to the cost of energy at the pump in California,” he continued. “With Exxon’s two new buildings under construction at Aker Philadelphia Shipyard at cost in excess of $200 million each, tankers that will replace old Jones Act tankers in the Alaskan/California trade this will sure increase the price at the pump in California.”

Supporters of the Jones Act vehemently disagree with those who blame higher gasoline prices on the Jones Act.

Michael Roberts, senior vice president and general counsel of Crowley Maritime, noted that domestic shipping capacity is higher now than a year ago.

“This would tend to drive gasoline prices lower, not higher,” Roberts said.

He also noted that marine transportation makes up a tiny fraction of the overall cost of gasoline.

The incremental cost of using American vessels and crews in U.S. domestic trade is also very small, “more like a tenth of a penny per gallon at the pump. I just don’t see any truth in those numbers.”

The price of fuel expands beyond the pump.


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The American Conservative


Jonesing for Relief from Port Protectionism


Jacksonville, Florida, brings in coal from Colombia rather than West Virginia. Livestock farmers in Texas buy grain from Argentina instead of from America. Puerto Rico’s port at San Juan is losing shipping volume, even as the Port of Kingston in Jamaica is gaining it.

Why? Because an antiquated maritime law, the Jones Act, requires that all transport of cargo between two United States ports be carried by ships that are U.S.-owned, U.S.-built, U.S.-manned, and flagged in the United States.

That is, a ship from South Korea cannot go to Hawaii and then to San Fransisco. Foreign ships could not help with the BP oil spill cleanup without waivers.

William Keli’i Akina, the president of the Hawaiin think tank the Grassroots Institute, likens the law to a hostile blockade against Hawaii and Puerto Rico. But the vested interests that defend it—U.S. vessel owners, shipyards, unions, overland transporters—are so powerful that the last five presidents have all vocally supported it. Don’t expect repeal any time soon.

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US Crude Oil Prices Surged 23% In The Past Three Months On Middle East Instability Plus New Access To US Oil Supplies Formerly ‘Bottlenecked’ In Oklahoma

on July 17 2013 3:23 PM

NYMex May 2012 2

Traders on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, the benchmark U.S. crude, soared to $106.10 per barrel Wednesday, from about $86 in mid-April.

Part of the reason stems from unrest in Egypt as traders and market participants fear that civil strife in the biggest Arab country may bleed over to the Suez Canal, where 4 million barrels of oil pass every day, said Christopher Knittel, an energy economist at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

“Egypt made some players in the market very uneasy as to what might happen in the near future with supplies,” Knittel said.

The price for WTI, meanwhile, is influenced by its European counterpart, a crude known as Brent blend, which is the benchmark for two-thirds of the world’s traded crude and what Europe uses as its pricing standard. For that reason, the rise in price of Brent blend over worries about the Suez Canal have also lifted the price of WTI, Knittel said.


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