News

Forecasting LCFS Credit Prices

June 22, 2017 ,

Dave Hackett’s presentation to CARB’s June 22, 2017 board meeting. Dave provided comments to the board on the forecasted rising LCFS cost, or hidden tax, in gasoline and diesel price. This analysis first appeared in Stillwater’s June 2017 Monthly LCFS Newsletter. You can download a copy of the presentation here.

War Stories: Leigh Noda’s Advice that Can’t be Erased

June 7, 2017 ,

June 7, 2017 by Jessica Loomis In 1972, young Leigh Noda had just begun his career as a refinery engineer with Atlantic Richfield Company. It would be the beginning of a 28-year long journey with the company, but as a young man just starting out, Leigh felt overwhelmed and in awe of the Operations Supervisor whom he worked for as...
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The RFS Point of Obligation Part 2: How are RINs generated and RFS compliance achieved?

June 6, 2017 , ,

June 6, 2017 by Michael Leister Last month in the first edition in our RFS Point of Obligation series, we discussed the general RFS rules, this month we get more specific about RIN generation and RFS Compliance.  When a renewable fuel producer like an ethanol production facility or biomass-based diesel manufacturing plant produces a compliant renewable fuel, the renewable fuel...
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California’s 2030 Scoping Plan: Changes for the Transportation Fuels Sector

June 6, 2017 , ,

June 6, 2017 by Kendra Seymour Introduction Last week President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the historic Paris Climate Agreement, signaling a lack of commitment at the federal level to combatting climate change. Many states, municipalities, and companies, however, have voiced continued support for the Paris Agreement and have affirmed their intention to fulfill the tenets of the Agreement. Sub-national...
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War Stories: Where in the World is Jim Langley?

May 16, 2017 ,

May 1, 2017 by Jessica Loomis For this edition of War Stories, we interviewed Senior Associate Jim Langley about one of his international projects. Several years ago, Jim was retained by a Latin American oil and refining company to evaluate two environmentally driven process technologies. One was the old, proven technology that accomplished 95% of the client’s objectives, the other...
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RFS Point of Obligation Part 1: How Does the RFS Work?

May 16, 2017 , ,

May 1, 2017 by Michael Leister For the past year or more, there has been a lot of discussion in the transportation fuels industry on moving the current Renewable Fuels Standard 2 (RFS2) point of obligation to the point where rack blending occurs. Currently the point of obligation is with refiners and importers, however the RINs for RFS compliance are...
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IMO 2020: The Next Big Thing for the Oil Supply Chain

May 16, 2017 ,

May 1, 2017 by David Hackett The term “oil supply chain” is a way to describe the activities that are required to produce crude oil out of the ground, move it to the refinery, transform the crude oil into fuel, and move the fuel to consumers.  The chief air pollutant in crude oil is sulfur. Governments and industry have been...
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The ripple effects of the gasoline tax increase

April 24, 2017 ,

April 24, 2017 By Rob Nikolewski, The San Diego Union-Tribune In an indication of just how much California is affected by gasoline prices, at least three different groups on Monday weighed in on the ramifications of Senate Bill 1, the $52.4 billion effort passed by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature earlier this month. One organization that concentrates on policy solutions...
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Our Trip to the Center for American and International Law Annual Oil and Gas Law Conference

March 1, 2017 ,

February 28, 2017 by Rob Jaques Stillwater’s litigation support business has grown significantly over the past couple of years. These projects have included an $8 billion arbitration case, a $12 million crude-by-rail lawsuit, a $5 million biodiesel lawsuit, and others. As a result of this growing business, Senior Associate Jim Langley and I decided to attend the Center for American...
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A Closer Look: Integrated Majors Breaking Up with their Refineries

February 28, 2017 ,

February 28, 2017 by Jessica Loomis In recent years, several major integrated oil companies have sold off certain refineries they own because they don’t believe they are positioned to be core to their current business practices. We thought it would be interesting to examine some of these large companies as they continue to turn their focus to upstream assets, and...
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LCFS 101 – A Beginner’s Guide

February 28, 2017 ,

February 28, 2017 by Megan Boutwell Not too long ago a friend checked in looking for an LCFS tutorial. Based on that request we decided to put together a handy dandy LCFS guide. We could go on for days about this stuff, but we’ll show a little discipline and just give you the high points. The LCFS can seem like...
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Gasolinazo! What’s going on with gasoline prices in Mexico?

January 26, 2017 ,

January 26, 2017 by David Hackett The recent rise in gasoline prices in Mexico has driven significant unrest early this month. However, north of the border (where gasoline prices are higher than they were last summer), they are still cheap. What’s going on in Mexico? There are several factors contributing to the crisis. The Mexican government still sets the annual...
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Tier 3: A quick guide to the EPA’s new gasoline sulfur standards

January 19, 2017 ,

January 17, 2017 by EJ Ledet and Mike Leister Effective January 1, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began requiring all U.S. gasoline to meet an annual 10 ppm average sulfur requirement as part of their new Tier 3 vehicle and fuel regulations. The 10 ppm sulfur average applies at the refinery gate, which is the point where finished...
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Second Quarter 2016 LCFS Credit Trends

November 17, 2016 ,

November 17, 2016 Each quarter, our Stillwater LCFS Quarterly Newsletter takes an in-depth look at one aspect of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard and other low carbon standard efforts around the country. In our latest LCFS Quarterly Newsletter, Leigh Noda analyzes the LCFS credit trends. The following is an excerpt from the latest Stillwater Quarterly LCFS Newsletter. The credits and...
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Another upset at the Torrance Refinery

November 17, 2016 , ,

November 16, 2016 The former ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, CA experienced an upset this week. As news helicopters circled above, the local fire department fought a fire that appeared to be in the alkylation unit. Thankfully, the media were reporting yesterday that there were no serious injuries. Today, OPIS reported that the refinery was back operating at full rates, although...
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How much “Ethanol Free” gasoline is out there?

November 16, 2016

November 15, 2016 By David Hackett The Federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requires increasingly high levels of renewable fuels to be blended into transportation fuel. Ethanol provides the largest share of the renewable fuel pool so that nearly all of the gasoline sold in the U.S. is 10% ethanol. With this volume it would be easy to assume that there...
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Aging Pipelines Raise Concerns

November 11, 2016

November 2, 2016 Alison Sider and Nicole Friedman, The Wall Street Journal More than 60% of U.S. fuel pipelines were built before 1970, according to federal figures. Recent disruptions on Colonial Pipeline Co.’s fuel artery running up the East Coast show why some energy observers worry that this is a problem. The pipeline, which began operating fully in 1964, was...
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Oregon’s First Quarter of Clean Fuels Program Compliance

October 11, 2016

October 10, 2016 Each month, our Stillwater LCFS Monthly Newsletter takes an in-depth look at one aspect of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard and other low carbon standard efforts around the country. In our latest LCFS Monthly Newsletter, Jim Mladenik compares the first quarter of Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program with California’s LCFS first quarter. The following is an excerpt from...
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Octane’s Value Proposition

August 10, 2016

Dave Hackett’s presentation at the American Coalition for Ethanol Annual Conference on August 10, 2016. This presentation explains the refining process, defines octane, and explains the octane market. VIEW PRESENTATION  

LCFS Credit Price: What’s behind the nose dive?

August 9, 2016

August 9, 2016 Back in February, LCFS credit prices were trading for about $130 per metric tonne (MT). Prices were fairly steady through the spring, and then something happened in July to make the price drop. LCFS credits lost more than half of their value from February, hitting the $56/MT mark in the last week of July. Prices have rebounded...
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War Stories: How much sugar does it take to make sweet crude?

August 9, 2016

August 8, 2016 James Langley In the early days of Russian oil trading I received a call from a client in Moscow. The client needed expert help in solving a crude oil trading and blending question. He asked: “How much sugar does it take to convert a barrel of sour crude into a barrel of sweet crude?”1 After closing my...
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Where Demand Outstrips Capacity – U.S. East Coast Supply and Production

June 7, 2016

June 16, 2016 by David Hackett Supply to the East Coast is a complex mixture of local refineries, large pipeline movements from Texas and Louisiana and water shipments both barge and large ships.  The U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) divides the U.S. into five regions or PADDs (Petroleum Administration for Defense Districts) as shown in Figure 1.  The East Coast...
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When Good Term Contracts Go Bad – Lessons Learned

June 7, 2016

June 6, 2016 by Michael W. Bloch, with contributions from David Bulfin and David Wilshin Stillwater recently worked with several clients and their attorneys to resolve term contract disputes that led to litigation or arbitration. These disputes were grounded in the poor structure and understanding of the terms and conditions of the contracts. Often, the parties to the contract cannot...
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The Value Chain Part 1 – Oil Product Supply

May 24, 2016

Dave Hackett’s presentation at the OPIS Mexico – U.S. Petroleum Summit on May 24, 2016. This presentation discusses the current petroleum product flows in Mexico and the export flows from the U.S. into Mexico. It also takes a close look at wholesale prices along the border. VIEW PRESENTATION

Recap from Stillwater’s 2016 Annual Meeting

May 2, 2016

May 2, 2016 On April 2nd Stillwater held our 6th Annual Meeting in Irvine, CA. The Annual Meeting originated in 2011 with a handful of people sitting around a kitchen table discussing the future of the company. Since then it’s grown to a weekend-long event with 29 attendees, starting with a kick-off party at Stillwater World Headquarters. Associates flew in...
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Subscribe to Stillwater’s LCFS Newsletter Today!

May 2, 2016

Is your company impacted by California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard? The LCFS is well under way, and it’s important that Covered Entities and the companies that support them have the right information to make smart Credit Market decisions. Stillwater’s LCFS Newsletter is a powerful tool for Covered Entities to use as they navigate the standard. This unique publication offers the...
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Politics at play as CFTC tries to regulate excessive speculation of energy commodities

March 29, 2016

March 29, 2016 by Barry Schaps The Federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) began addressing the issue of excessive speculation and its effects on energy commodities since Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Act following the financial meltdown of 2008. The legislation, passed in 2010, ordered the CFTC to set limits on the number of futures contracts a trader could hold for...
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How RFS Changes Impact Program Participants

March 15, 2016

Michael Leister’s presentation at the 2016 AFPM Annual Meeting on March 15, 2016. This presentation discusses EPA’s changes to the RFS  which are meant to encourage the growth of production and use of biofuels and as an initial step to drive greater E85 and perhaps E15 sales. The presentation provides an analysis of the changes to the standards and how they will...
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The Oil Outlook for 2016

February 18, 2016

February 9, 2016 David Hackett About a year ago we wrote in this space that oil prices would continue to go down. We suggested that $35 was possible for a bottom for West Texas Intermediate price, but thought it would hold around $50 or $60 per barrel. (WTI closed on February 9 at $28.39, down 26% since New Year’s Day.)...
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Oil train plans hit roadblocks in California

February 18, 2016

February 12, 2016 Tony Bizjak, The Sacramento Bee Two years ago, it appeared that milelong trains carrying crude oil to refineries would soon be a regular feature on the California landscape – including several a day rumbling through Sacramento. Now, amid safety concerns, the state’s two highest-profile crude-by-rail project proposals, one in the north and one in the south, have...
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Why California gasoline is so expensive

February 17, 2016

Feb. 3, 2016 Dan McSwain, The San Diego Union-Tribune Although oil markets are bankrupting producers and draining government coffers from Moscow to Riyadh, plummeting costs are filling the pockets of ordinary consumers this year, right? Um, wrong, at least in California, where state government helps the refining industry keep gasoline prices aloft for months at a time. On Monday, at...
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California Gasoline Inventory Woes Keep Retail Prices High

January 18, 2016

January 17, 2016 by John Faulstich California’s gasoline prices were often in the news in 2015 and the trend will continue in 2016. Dave Hackett of Stillwater is one member of the California Energy Commission Petroleum Market Advisory Committee which continues to look into the gasoline prices in California. A topic of discussion at the last PMAC meeting was the February 2015...
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Deregulation in Mexico: Changes to the Petroleum Supply Chain

December 11, 2015

December 10, 2015 Major changes in Mexico’s energy markets will start happening next year and it is important to understand what the landscape will look like in order to take advantage of the opportunities. On November 17th, Dave Hackett spoke about the state of the Mexican petroleum products market at the OPIS Mexico – U.S. Petroleum Summit. Dave’s presentation, Product...
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Bubble Map Update: Drop in Oil Prices Takes the Steam out of the Mid Continent

December 10, 2015 ,

December 10, 2015   The December Bubble Map shows crude oil prices dropping overall while differentials to WTI have remained relatively stable. Prices on December 9th show WTI dropping from $46 to $37 since our last blog in October. The WTI/Brent differential has widened slightly at $3 over WTI. The Bakken discount has widened to $8 under WTI. The Western...
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Pemex Privatization: Something to Keep Your Eye On

December 3, 2015

December 2, 2015 by Barry Schaps Around this time of year, many newsletters and blogs post screaming headlines about the “hottest” items to watch for next year. This is more of a “keep your eye on this space” notice as Stillwater Associates focuses its attention on the planned transformation of Petroleos de Mexico (Pemex). Make no mistake, the reorganization and...
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Product Flows and Markets: Today and Tomorrow

November 17, 2015

Dave Hackett’s presentation at the OPIS Mexico – U.S. Petroleum Summit on November 17, 2015. This presentation discusses the current petroleum product flows in Mexico and the export flows from the U.S. into Mexico. It also takes a look at what the deregulated Mexican market may look like in 2018. VIEW PRESENTATION

Stillwater Provides Research and Analysis to EIA PADD 5 Transportation Fuels Report

October 6, 2015

October 5, 2015 On September 30th, EIA released the PADD 5 Transportation Fuels Markets report, the first in a series of studies on U.S. regional fuels markets. Stillwater was privileged to provide our expertise for this study which examines U.S. West Coast petroleum product markets. Our research and analysis for this report covers: Demand, including in-region consumption, transfers of fuels...
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California could be PBF’s biggest refinery challenge yet

October 4, 2015 ,

October 1, 2015 by Kristen Hays, Reuters PBF Energy Inc.’s purchase of Exxon Mobil Corp.’s California refinery marks Chairman Tom O’Malley’s biggest bet yet on U.S. refining in the country’s toughest market. The $537.5 million deal to buy Exxon’s 155,000 barrels per day plant in Torrance with dock, storage and pipeline infrastructure will mark PBF’s entrance into the market in...
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Oil at $30 Is Not Problem for Some Bakken Drillers Cutting Costs

August 13, 2015

August 12, 2015 by Dan Murtaugh, Bloomberg The lowest crude prices in six years might not be enough to put the brakes on the U.S. energy renaissance. Some parts of North Dakota’s Bakken shale play are profitable at less than $30 a barrel as companies tap bigger wells and benefit from lower drilling costs, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence analysis....
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Gasoline Price Spike: What Caused the Latest Rise in Southern California Retail Prices?

August 6, 2015

August 5, 2015 by David Hackett There are three major refining centers on the West Coast, the Pacific Northwest (PNW), the San Francisco Bay (SFB), and Los Angeles (LA). The refineries in the PNW supply Washington, Oregon and California with gasoline. The SFB plants supply Northern California, Northern Nevada and Southern California with gasoline. Excess gasoline from the PNW and...
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Petroleum Product Flows by Region

June 28, 2015

June 27, 2015 by David Hackett Clients frequently ask us to explain the flows of petroleum from one region to another. Our Bubble Map is often used to explain the flows of crude oil, for example. The chart below illustrates the flow of petroleum products in and out of the U.S. by Petroleum for Administration of Defense District (PADD) for...
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What Accounts for the Recent Surge in Cellulosic Biofuels Production?

May 19, 2015 ,

May 7, 2015   by Dave Hirshfeld, MathPro Inc. EPA has pledged to issue proposed renewable fuels volume requirements for 2014, 2015, and 2016 by June 1 and final renewable fuels volume requirements for all three years by November 30. These volume requirements set the annual Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) for refiners and other obligated parties with respect to renewable...
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Notes from the AFPM Annual Meeting

April 15, 2015

April 14, 2015 by David Hackett The AFPM Annual Meeting was back in San Antonio this year. Every year I find this four-day event educational, fun and exhausting. It seems like every day goes from 7 AM to Midnight and is filled with meetings, eating and drinking. The San Antonio hometown oil companies host big parties and there are plenty...
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Gas prices to drop to lowest in six years this summer, agency predicts

April 8, 2015

April 7, 2015 by Tiffany Hsu, LA Times An ongoing glut of crude oil will give U.S. drivers this summer the lowest seasonal gasoline prices in six years, the government predicts. Even in California – where prices recently surged a dollar above the national average, sparking accusations of collusion by oil refineries – analysts expect gasoline to be the cheapest...
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Gasoline Price Hike Update: Retail Prices up 45 Cents per Gallon

March 3, 2015

March 3, 2015 by David Hackett Retail gasoline prices in Southern California are going up rapidly. I spoke about the reasons why on Saturday’s NBC Nightly News. Last week we wrote an article that discussed the rapid rise in retail gasoline prices in Southern California. Using EIA’s weekly retail data, we showed that the price of regular gasoline at the...
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Gasoline Price Hike: Why are Southern California Gasoline Prices on the Rise?

February 25, 2015

February 25, 2015 by David Hackett The press has been buzzing with gasoline price stories since the ExxonMobil Torrance refinery suffered an explosion last week, limiting the amount of gasoline it produces. Indeed retail prices are suddenly 25% higher. Using the EIA’s weekly retail price data, the chart below shows retail gasoline prices in Los Angeles bottomed the beginning of...
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The U.S. Side of the U.S.-China GHG Agreement: The Impossible Dream

February 25, 2015 ,

February 23, 2015 by Dave Hirshfeld, MathPro Inc. In November 2014, the Presidents of the U.S. and China agreed to new curbs on the two countries’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, stating that: “The U.S. intends to reduce its emissions by 26%-28% below its 2005 level by 2025 and to make its best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28%.” “China...
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What Happened to California’s Cap-and-Trade Gasoline Price Hike?

January 19, 2015

January 19, 2015 by David Hackett Oil industry observers, including the Downstream Wizard, predicted that California retail gasoline prices would go up around New Year’s Day as transportation fuels would come under California’s Cap-and-Trade regulation. At current prices for carbon, Covered Entities like refiners and marketers who pay the tax on fuels, should be passing through about 10 cents per...
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Gas Price Slide Will Boost Bay Area Consumer Spending

January 13, 2015

January 11, 2015 by Pete Carey, San Jose Mercury News Bay Area drivers are already celebrating the recent collapse in oil prices, but if it lasts it will have broader economic implications, putting billions of dollars a year directly into the wallets of residents and helping to stimulate the region’s already robust economy. And a lot of that money is...
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The Changing Landscape of Crude Oil Movements to the West Coast

December 11, 2014

The Changing Landscape of Crude Oil Movements to the West Coast. Dave Hackett’s presentation to the Moving Crude Supplies to West Coast End Markets conference on December 3, 2014. With the shale boom, and the surge in crude-by-rail, crude oil movements to the west coast have changed significantly in a short time. This presentation gives an overview of the changes...
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The CBO Finds Future RFS Volume Mandates Pose “Significant Challenges”

December 10, 2014

December 5, 2014   by Dave Hirshfeld, MathPro Inc. In June 2014, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published an analysis of the feasibility and economic implications of achieving future annual renewable fuel mandate volumes1 for the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Here in Regulation City, refining industry advocates praised the CBO analysis; ethanol industry advocates trashed it. Elsewhere, the report...
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Oil Import Decline to U.S. Revealed by Louisiana as Truth

November 6, 2014

November 5, 2014 by Dan Murtaugh, Zain Shauk and Lynn Doan, Bloomberg Things are slowing down at the U.S.’s largest oil-import hub. Just six years after importing more than 1 million barrels a day from countries including Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Iraq, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port is receiving just half of that from overseas, highlighting a nationwide trend at...
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Highlights from the 2014 OPIS Supply Summit

October 31, 2014

October 30, 2014 by David Hackett The presentations at this year’s OPIS National Supply Summit reflected the dynamics of petroleum markets in North America. Much of the conversation was on the impact of continuing growth of crude oil production in the Mid Continent. The topics include crude oil pipeline development, crude-by-rail and plenty of discussion on the crude oil export...
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ANS Feels the Squeeze on the West Coast

October 30, 2014

October 30, 2014   On Monday with WTI priced at $81 per barrel, Eagle Ford and WTI-Midland were listed at parity with WTI. Bakken at Clearbrook came in at $13 under WTI. While the Western Canadian Select differential has narrowed to $7 under WTI. While we’re seeing discounts in the Mid Continent, prices on the coasts continue to drop. Brent...
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Alaska’s Oil Piles Up at Port as Barrels Wait for a Ride

October 27, 2014

October 21, 2014 by Lynn Doan and Dan Murtaugh, Bloomberg Stockpiles of oil from Alaska’s North Slope have surged to a five-year seasonal high as tanker maintenance slows loadings, forcing the grade to trade at a discount to U.S. crude for the first time since 2010. Inventories at the Valdez terminal, the northernmost ice-free port in North America and the...
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LCFS and Cap & Trade – Is Greenhouse Gas Regulation Coming Soon to a State Near You?

October 27, 2014

Dave Hackett’s presentation at the Annual OPIS Supply Summit on October 27, 2014. This presentation discusses the current California LCFS and Cap & Trade regulations and how they are affecting the transportation fuels industry in the state. It also explores the status of clean fuels and low carbon fuel standards being considered in other states around the country. VIEW PRESENTATION

Shale Boom Helping American Consumers as Never Before

October 20, 2014

October 17, 2014 by Dan Murtaugh and Lynn Doan, Bloomberg Oil traders might see the 27 percent slide in global prices as a bear market. For U.S. consumers, it’s more like an early holiday gift. The drop in crude has pulled retail gasoline down more than 50 cents a gallon from the year’s high in April. That means annual savings...
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Pump Prices Fall to Lowest Since 2011 Amid Oil Slump

October 20, 2014

October 15, 2014 by Dan Murtaugh and Lynn Doan, Bloomberg Regular gasoline in the U.S. fell to the lowest level in more than three-and-a-half years as shale oil production and weak global demand spurred a four-month slump in oil prices. The average retail price fell 0.9 cents a gallon to $3.177, Heathrow Florida-based motoring group AAA said on its website...
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Navigating Changes in Transportation Energy

October 16, 2014

Dave Hackett’s presentation to the Quest Club of Bakersfield on the fundamental problem the energy industry faces in the Mid Continent. The presentation also takes a look at the Pacific Basin and suggests additional solutions. VIEW PRESENTATION

Orphaned Russian Oil Heads to U.S. West on Asia Overflow

October 8, 2014

October 3, 2014 by Lynn Doan, Bloomberg One of Russia’s prized oils, facing increased competition in Asia, is traveling to a rather unlikely destination: the U.S. West Coast. As the U.S. threatens President Vladimir Putin with further economic sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine, light Sokol oil from Russia’s Far East is showing up in California for the first time...
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Lone Star State Makes it Inside the Bubble

September 26, 2014

September 26, 2014   Crude oil prices in the Texas tight oil producing regions are suffering from the same over-supply problem as the Mid Continent. There’s a lot of crude oil in Texas and prices reflect the oversupply. For that reason, the Bubble has been stretched a bit to include the Lone Star State. Prices for WTI-Midland and Eagle Ford...
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