AP explains: Why US will lift restrictions on oil exports

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. could soon end restrictions on oil exports put in place in the mid-1970s. The lifting of the embargo is part of a spending deal expected to be pushed through the House and Senate by the end of the week. Here are the reasons why the ban was in place, why it is now being lifted and how consumers and businesses will be affected.


Minnesota regulators to make some key pipeline decisions

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission meets Thursday to make some important decisions on how it will proceed with Enbridge Energy's proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota across Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin.

The decisions will also affect Enbridge's proposal to replace its aging Line 3 pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta to Superior because Enbridge wants the new line to partially follow Sandpiper's route. The path forward became murky in September when the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that Sandpiper needs a full environmental review, and the PUC now faces a complicated web of issues to work out.


Oil drops as inventories rise

The Wall Street Journal

Energy Information Administration data showing a build in U.S. crude inventories sent oil prices sliding again Wednesday. Light, sweet crude for January delivery slumped 4.9 percent, or $1.83, to settle at $35.52 a barrel on the Nymex—the lowest since February 2009—while in London, February Brent lost $1.26 to $37.19, The Wall Street Journal reports.


Islamic State looking to extend oil control beyond Syria: US official


Islamic State forces are eyeing oil and gas facilities in Libya and the Sinai peninsula, a senior U.S. official warned Wednesday, Reuters reports.


Evacuees allowed back after West Texas well blowout

The Associated Press

A well operated by Tabula Rasa Energy that blew out last week, spewing hydrogen sulfide, has been capped and some 500 people evacuated from the area around it are being allowed to return home, The Associated Press reports.


Democrats divided on crude exports tradeoff in omnibus

The move to end the decades-old ban on crude oil exports in the $1.1 trillion bill to fund the government next year has sparked a divide among Democrats over the policy shift's impact on climate change, with some contending they got more than they gave and others saying the deal provides only “cold comfort.”

In exchange for the Republican-supported end to the export ban, Democrats were able to wrangle five-year extensions for wind and solar tax credits, a reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the elimination of language aimed at blocking Obama administration environmental rules.

The White House on Wednesday declared victory in the budget talks, pointing to the the credit extensions and the defeat of the regulatory riders as a clear triumph when weighed against lifting the export ban.

Government: New vehicles averaged record 24.3 mpg in 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — New cars and trucks averaged a record 24.3 miles per gallon last year, but falling gas prices and America's rekindled love affair with SUVs could endanger future fuel economy gains.

The Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that fuel economy rose in 2014 by 0.2 mpg, from 24.1 mpg the year before, as the positive impact of technical improvements were nearly offset by resurgent consumer demand for larger vehicles.


Oil drops as U.S. supply grows


Oil prices began falling again early Wednesday after a surprise increase in crude stockpiles reported by the American Petroleum Institute. West Texas Intermediate crude lost 29 cents to $37.08 a barrel in electronic trading on the Nymex, while in London Brent fell $1.08 to $37.37, Reuters reports.


Mexico oil sector sees most successful auction so far

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's third auction to open oil and gas blocks to private investment was the most successful yet, with all 25 blocks drawing bids Tuesday.

Officials awarded exploration and production rights to mostly Mexican companies, as well as one Canadian firm plus consortiums involving U.S. and Dutch investments. No major multinational oil companies participated in the bidding.

AP Photo

Crude exports, energy tax breaks and LWCF ride along with omnibus deal

Congressional leaders early Wednesday morning finally unveiled a package deal to fund the government next year, and some top energy and environmental issues are set to ride along.

The $1.1 trillion bill would lift a 40-year-old ban on exports of crude oil, a top Republican priority. In exchange, Democrats won multi-year extensions for wind and solar tax credits, a three-year reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and elimination of language targeting Obama administration environmental rules.

The 2009-page bill would grant the president the authority to restrict crude exports during a declared national emergency or if the policy can be directly tied to domestic energy shortages or price hikes. In turn, the package also includes a provision pressed by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., that would offer a tax credit to independent refiners that stand to lose from lifting the ban.


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