St. James Parish Council delays vote on Bayou Bridge Pipeline; parish presidents vows to get alternative evacuation route

St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel pledged Wednesday to “review every possibility” to create an alternative evacuation route for residents worried about industrial development encroaching on the parish’s rural west bank.

The route has come up as major industrial facilities have been proposed for the area in recent years and the last leg of the 162-mile Bayou Bridge pipeline is planned to go through the same area to deliver crude oil to two existing tank farms along the Mississippi River.

Roussel made his commitment before the Parish Council, announcing that he and other parish officials had met recently with Chuck Carr Brown, state Department of Environmental Quality secretary, and some of his staff about an evacuation route….


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Early polls in state treasurer’s race released

With a little more than eight weeks to go, polls are showing marginal differences between the major, if little known, candidates for state treasurer.

The campaigns, however, see the same anemic numbers as proof their candidates are breaking away from the pack in the Oct. 14 election.

A poll released Thursday by former state Rep. John Schroder showed that 18 percent of 811 likely voters questioned earlier this week would vote for the Covington Republican…


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Oil Futures Point To Higher Oil Prices

The EIA reported another strong week of inventory declines in its most recent data release, revealing a drawdown of 6.5 million barrels for the week ending on August 4. That means that the U.S. has now pulled more than 60 million barrels from storage since inventories peaked in March at 535 million barrels.

More importantly, there is growing evidence to suggest that the inventory drawdowns will continue and might even accelerate. That evidence can be found in the futures market, where changes in longer-dated contracts are no longer trading at a much higher price than near-term prices.

For much of the past three years, the oil futures market has been stuck in a state of contango – a situation in which oil contracts for the next month are trading at a steep discount compared to oil futures that would expire in six or twelve months. It may seem like some esoteric financial nonsense, but the contango was a glaring symptom of a market that was suffering from a glut of supply…

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Saudi’s Falih doesn’t rule out more oil cuts but kingdom won’t take unilateral action: Al Sharq

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih does not rule out another oil production cut but stressed that the kingdom will not take any unilateral action, the Saudi-owned Al Sharq Al Awsat newspaper reported on Friday.

The prospect of continued output cuts is on the table, and if any further action is needed, whether to extend or change production levels, it will be studied in a timely manner and agreed upon by all the producers, the paper cited Falih as saying…

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Oil drops 1 percent as IEA sees slow market rebalancing

Oil prices fell by one percent on Friday to their lowest in more than a week after the International Energy Agency said market rebalancing was taking time despite strong demand growth because of weak OPEC compliance with output cuts.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, was at $51.42 a barrel at 0830 GMT, down 48 cents. That was down 0.9 percent from its last close and its lowest since Aug. 1.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 48 cents, or 1 percent, at $48.11 per barrel, reaching its lowest since July 26…


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OPEC demand forecast, war drums drive oil prices higher

Even with higher OPEC production, signs of a narrowing gap between supply and demand, and rising geopolitical tensions, pushed oil prices higher Thursday.

Economists at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported total group production increased 173,000 barrels per day to 32.87 million barrels per day in July, its highest level of the year. Strong production figures have been a mounting concern for traders monitoring the OPEC-led effort to balance the market with coordinated production declines.

OPEC’s report followed U.S. data that show production declined and the level of crude oil inventories moved lower…


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Total U.S. energy expenditures in 2015 were the lowest in more than a decade

Expenditures for delivered energy in the United States in 2015 totaled $1.127 trillion, a 20% decrease in real terms from 2014, according to recently released data from EIA’s State Energy Data System. Adjusted for inflation, total energy expenditures in 2015 were the lowest since 2004. Total energy expenditures, expressed as a percent of the United States gross domestic product, were 6.2% in 2015, the lowest since 2002.

About 45% of total U.S. energy expenditures in 2015 were in the transportation sector and mainly included fuels used for automobiles, rail, aircraft, and waterborne vehicles such as ships and barges. The 28% decline in transportation sector expenditures between 2014 and 2015 was the result of lower fuel prices, as energy use in the sector increased by about 1%.

Declines in petroleum product prices accounted for almost all of the overall price decline, as petroleum-based fuels accounted for 97% of total consumption in the transportation sector in 2015. Petroleum prices were at their lowest level since 2009, while natural gas prices were at their lowest level since 2002. In total, the U.S. spent about $507 billion on transportation sector energy in 2015…


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US Distillate Inventories Fell for the Fourth Straight Week

The EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) reported that US distillate inventories fell by 1.72 MMbbls (million barrels) to 147.7 MMbbls on July 28–August 4, 2017. Inventories fell 1.1% week-over-week and by 3.5 MMbbls or 2.3% YoY (year-over-year).

A market survey estimated that distillate inventories would have fallen by 0.1 MMbbls on July 28–August 4, 2017. US diesel futures rose on August 9, 2017, due to the larger-than-expected fall in inventories. They rose 1.5% to $1.65 per gallon on August 9, 2017. Likewise, US crude oil (RYE) (USO) (UCO) futures rose on August 9, 2017.

Higher crude oil (IEZ) (XES) (DIG) and diesel prices have a positive impact on oil refiners and producers like Western Refining (WNR), Marathon Petroleum (MPC), Hess (HES), Bill Barrett (BBG), and Swift Energy (SFY)…


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US can boost gas exports, cut global emissions in one fell swoop

Infamously, Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax, but the rest of the world knows better. In fact, the main reason European and Asian nations are interested in importing U.S. natural gas is to displace coal and cut greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

If the Trump administration truly cares about expanding U.S. gas exports, as they claim, they should maximize the competitive advantage that lower-emitting U.S. natural gas has over not only coal, but also over higher-emitting Russian gas.

This means the administration should stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempt to rollback domestic regulations of methane emissions from gas development, and perhaps use the threat of sanctions against Russian gas pipelines (as allowed under the new Russia sanctions law) to expand U.S. markets…


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Stephen Waguespack: A plan may finally be coming together…

Believe it or not, there is finally some good news to report on the state budget front: Governor Edwards is signaling that he plans to propose a detailed, specific plan to address the upcoming fiscal cliff. This change in approach from our elected leader is welcomed, timely and much needed.

Up until now, the people of Louisiana were receiving very different signals.

Last session, the Governor deviated from the fiscal recommendations made by the HCR11 Task Force (a group driven by members of his own team) and instead drafted and proposed a commercial activity tax (CAT) that was riddled with unintended consequences. The proposal met defeat by a wave of bipartisan opposition and the Governor spent most of the remaining days of session asking the legislature to take the lead. The House, in turn, requested spending cuts instead of new taxes, a suggestion which was not well received on the 4th floor. Session eventually ended with a balanced budget, but not much else in terms of budget or tax reform to prepare for the upcoming fiscal cliff. A special session to be called this fall or early next year, to decide what to do with the Governor’s temporary taxes, seemed all but inevitable…


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