Oil   Oil

Oil drifts down despite China manufacturing bounce

The price of oil fell Thursday, giving back part of its sizeable jump the day before, despite improvement in Chinese manufacturing.

Benchmark U.S. crude for September delivery was down 16 cents at $102.96 a barrel at 0650 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained delivery gained 73 cents to $103.12 on Wednesday after data released by the Energy Department Wednesday showed a drop in U.S. crude inventories that was more than double what analysts had expected.

Brent crude for September delivery, a benchmark for international oils, was down 14 cents to $107.89 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Japan record $75B trade deficit in 1st half; LNG, oil imports increase

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's trade deficit surged to a record 7.6 trillion yen ($74.9 billion) in the first half of the year as exports failed to keep pace with surging imports, the Finance Ministry reported Thursday.

Japan's bulging import bill was partly due to a jump in demand as businesses and consumers stepped up purchases ahead of an April 1 increase in the sales tax to 8 percent from 5 percent.

Imports for the six months jumped 10 percent to 42.6 trillion yen ($420 billion) while exports rose 3.2 percent to 35.1 trillion yen ($346 billion), the preliminary data show.

GOP senators demand say on Iran nuclear deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican senators are insisting that the House and Senate sign off on any potential nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers or else sanctions on Tehran that had been temporarily lifted could kick back in.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top GOP senator on the Foreign Relations Committee, joined with four other senators Wednesday in introducing legislation that says President Barack Obama must submit any nuclear deal with Iran to Congress within three days. The House and Senate would then vote on the deal.

Slow public alert after ND fire raises concerns

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — Officials need to improve communication with residents of North Dakota's booming oil patch during potentially dangerous situations, an emergency manager and residents said, after an oil field service supply facility storing toxic chemicals exploded this week and authorities failed to alert the public for more than six hours.

"They should have done more," Aaron Volesky, a resident of Williston, North Dakota said of the slow release of information. No one was injured or killed in the explosion and fire, which started about midnight Monday and raged most of Tuesday. Flights to and from the town of 20,000 people were canceled for several hours Tuesday as a plume of smoke shot hundreds of feet into the air.

Senate Democrats

Boxer, Markey move to defend Obama's NRC nominees

A day after the nuclear industry raised concerns about President Barack Obama's two new nominees to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, key Senate Democrats endorsed the picks, a sign that they could move quickly through the chamber this fall. 

Obama on Tuesday nominated House staffer Jeffery M. Baran and former longtime NRC staffer Stephen G. Burns, both attorneys, to the commission, to replace two Democrats. George Apostolakis had left on June 30 at the end of his term, and William D. Magwood is to depart from his post 10 months early, on Aug. 31, to head the Paris-based Nuclear Energy Agency.

Oil

Stopping deadly oil train fires: New rules planned

WASHINGTON (AP) — Responding to a series of fiery train crashes, the government proposed rules Wednesday that would phase out tens of thousands of older tank cars that carry increasing quantities of crude oil and other highly flammable liquids through America's towns and cities.

But many details were put off until later as regulators struggle to balance safety against the economic benefits of a fracking boom that has sharply increased U.S. oil production. Among the issues: What type of tank cars will replace those being phased out, how fast will they be allowed to travel and what kind of braking systems will they need?

Oil

Oil gains on sharp drop in US supplies

The price of oil rose Wednesday after the government reported that U.S. oil supplies rose more than expected.

The benchmark U.S. oil contract for September delivery gained 73 cents to $103.12 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for September delivery, a benchmark for international oils, rose 70 cents to $108.03 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

The Energy Department reported that U.S. oil supplies fell by 4 million barrels last week, a sharper decline than the 2.6 million barrels expected by analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Financial.

Senate agrees on $11B highway funding measure

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate agreed Wednesday on an $11 billion measure to temporarily fix a multibillion-dollar shortfall in federal highway and transit programs, setting up a vote next week on several alternatives.

But senators will likely end up simply adopting a measure that passed the GOP-controlled House by a sweeping bipartisan vote last week, which would send it directly to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Oil

Officials: Williston fire burned chemicals; air OK

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — This week's fire at a Williston oil field supply company likely burned dozens of different chemicals that were stored there, an emergency official said Wednesday.

Williams County Emergency Manager Mike Hallesy added that the fire at Red River Supply will need to be fully extinguished before investigators can determine what caused it. He also said the half-mile voluntary evacuation zone that was cordoned off has been lifted, since the fire is mostly out.

EU seeks energy efficiency to ease Russia gas link

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's executive is proposing legislation to curb the energy use of households and firms by almost one third by 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower its dependence on gas imports, particularly those from Russia.

The Commission proposed Wednesday to increase energy efficiency by 30 percent, an upward revision of its earlier target of 20 percent by 2020.

Stefan Kuhn

Nuclear industry raises flags over Baran, Burns nominations to NRC

The head of the nuclear power industry's trade group raised questions Tuesday about President Barack Obama's two nominees to the fill one current and one expected vacancy on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The White House said earlier in the day that President Barack Obama would nominate Jeffery M. Baran, a congressional staffer, and Stephen G. Burns, a former longtime NRC official who rose to general counsel before leaving in 2012 to become head of legal affairs at the Paris-based Nuclear Energy Agency.

Oil

Oil falls to near $102 amid Gaza peace efforts

The price of oil retreated to near $102 per barrel on Wednesday amid a new push for a cease-fire between Israel and Palestine and after Europe imposed additional sanctions on Russia that fell short of a heavy hit.

U.S. benchmark oil for September delivery was down 34 cents to $102.07 a barrel at 0850 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract slipped 47 cents to $102.39 on Tuesday.

Brent crude for September delivery, a benchmark for international oils, was up 9 cents to $107.43 on the ICE exchange in London.

John Kerry flies to Tel Aviv despite FAA ban

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — The top U.S. diplomat defied a Federal Aviation Administration ban and flew into Israel's main airport Wednesday in a sign of sheer will to achieve a cease-fire agreement in the warring Gaza Strip despite little evidence of progress in ongoing negotiations.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry planned to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during what appeared to be a crucial day in the flailing talks. U.S. officials have downplayed expectations for an immediate, lasting truce between Israel and the Hamas militant group that controls Gaza. At the least, Kerry's mission Wednesday sought to define the limits of what each side would accept in a potential cease-fire.

Obama attributes wildfires to climate change

SEATTLE (AP) — President Barack Obama says a wildfire that has burned nearly 400 square miles in the north-central part of Washington state, along with blazes in other Western areas, can be attributed to climate change.

Obama, speaking at a fundraiser Tuesday, offered federal help to deal with Washington's wildfire, the largest in the state's history.

He said Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Craig Fugate had authorized an emergency declaration to ensure electrical power.

With GOP runoff over, Perdue and Nunn face off in Georgia

ATLANTA (AP) — Now that Georgia Republicans have settled on businessman David Perdue as their nominee for the state's open Senate seat, the real battle begins with a marquee match-up in the fall against Democrat Michelle Nunn that could help determine control of the chamber.

The contest is one of the nation's most closely-watched in the 2014 elections, and the prospects of Democrats winning a Senate seat in the staunchly conservative state are tantalizing for Nunn and her party as they defend their Senate majority. But Perdue is running as a Washington outsider and has the firepower of his own wealth behind him, having sunk at least $3 million of his own money into winning the GOP nomination against veteran Rep. Jack Kingston.

Oil

Fire extinguished at ND oil supply company

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — A once-massive blaze at an oil supply and logistics company that housed flammable chemicals in Williston, North Dakota, has been extinguished, according to the town's fire department.

Most firefighters returned from the facility belonging to Red River Supply late Tuesday, though one truck remained early Wednesday to monitor hot spots, said fire department shift captain Steven Kerzmann.

"The fire is out, but you've got some smoldering embers that might pop up here and there," he said.

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