OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The diesel-burning locomotive, the workhorse of American railroads since World War II, will soon begin burning natural gas — a potentially historic shift that could cut fuel costs, reduce pollution and strengthen the advantage railroads hold over trucks in long-haul shipping.
Rail companies want to take advantage of booming natural gas production that has cut the price of the fuel by as much as 50 percent. So they are preparing to experiment with redesigned engines capable of burning both diesel and liquefied natural gas. Natural gas "may revolutionize the industry much like the transition from steam to diesel," said Jessica Taylor, a spokeswoman for General Electric's locomotive division, one of several companies that will test new natural gas equipment later this year.
Any changes are sure to happen slowly. A full-scale shift to natural gas would require expensive new infrastructure across the nation's 140,000-mile freight-rail system, including scores of fueling stations.
NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil rose nearly 2 percent Wednesday as oil started flowing through a new pipeline to the Gulf Coast and traders anticipated another decline in U.S. supplies.
Meanwhile, natural gas futures shot up almost 6 percent as temperatures in many parts of the Northeast dropped into the single digits, and strong demand tapped the region's supplies of natural gas.
Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery rose $1.76, or 1.9 percent, to close at $96.73 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil last closed above $96 a barrel on Dec. 31. Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, gained $1.54, or 1.4 percent, to $108.27 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
BOSTON (AP) — Snow blowers whirred and shovels scraped across sidewalks as the Northeast tried to keep up with a winter storm that swirled up the coast, creating blizzard conditions on Cape Cod, disrupting government work in Washington and leaving behind it bitter Canadian cold that sapped fuel supplies.
The huge storm stretched from Kentucky to New England but hit hardest along the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor between Philadelphia and Boston. Snow began falling midmorning Tuesday in Philadelphia and had dumped as much as 13.5 inches by midnight, with New York seeing almost as much. Manalapan, N.J., had the highest snowfall reading with 16 inches.
The storm, which dropped nearly a foot of snow in parts of Massachusetts, promised to create headaches for motorists in Boston on Wednesday morning. Commuters in Philadelphia and New York had packed early trains or spent hours inching along roads in swirling darkness to get home the night before.
Saudi Basic Industries expects to enter the U.S. shale gas market sometime this year, having started talks with several companies, the firm's chief executive told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
NEW YORK (AP) — A second fierce blast of winter weather is sapping fuel supplies in many regions and sending prices for propane and natural gas to record highs.
Higher natural gas prices are also leading to sharply higher wholesale electricity prices as power utilities snap up gas at almost any price to run power plants to meet higher-than-normal winter demand.
Propane users will get pinched the most. Those who find themselves suddenly needing to fill their tanks could be paying $100 to $200 more per fill up than a month ago. Homeowners who use natural gas and electricity will see higher heating bills because they'll use more fuel. But prices won't rise dramatically because utilities only buy a small portion of the fuel at the elevated prices.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell met Tuesday with the coalition of drillers and an environmental group that helped craft the plan by Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper to cut methane emissions from natural gas production and transmission.
The meeting comes as the department and the Bureau of Land Management continue to deliberate over proposed hydraulic fracturing rules for wells drilled on federal lands that would set well integrity, fluids handling and disclosure standards, but would not regulate methane releases.
The infrastructure for natural gas delivery was in the spotlight again Tuesday as winter storms sent prices soaring at the main delivery point for New York City and Mid-Atlantic states, for the second time this month,The Wall Street Journal reports.
Iraq produced 3.6 million barrels of oil in February, the nation's highest output since Saddam Hussein took power in 1979, but a March pipeline attack and a drop in production highlight the instability of the nation's markets, The Wall Street Journal reports.
An all-week rally against the Keystone XL pipeline, organized by the Cowboy and Indian Alliance and green groups, drew nearly 200 protesters to the National Mall in Washington on Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Canada's Department of the Environment recommended removing humpback whales from its list of "threatened" species months before the government will rule on a pipeline permit that would boost oil shipments through the whales' habitat, Reuters reports.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican, urged the state's supreme court to dismiss a lower judge's ruling that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route was approved through improper means, Bloomberg reports.
Tom Steyer, a climate activist spending millions in the 2014 elections, said his activity differs from that of the conservative Koch brothers because he's pushing the issue of climate change rather than for policies he would benefit from, Politico reports.
The North American energy boom, which is starting to change the global picture economically and strategically, still has the potential to be derailed, particularly if oil prices drop, The New York Times reports.