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Posts tagged “oil refineries”

By Robert Rapier on Jan 31, 2012 with 35 responses

Refinery Closures Lead to Rising Gas Prices and Job Losses

Refinery Closures and the Keystone Pipeline There have been several announcements in recent months of refinery closures that will likely impact gasoline supplies (and prices) on the East Coast. Some of those closures have been on the East Coast. Others — such as the Hovensa refinery in the Virgin Islands and some European refineries — supply product to the East Coast. So why are these refineries closing? Basically, despite the very popular image of perpetually fat profits for the oil companies, the refining business has been historically poor. If a refinery often operates in the low single digit rates of return — or as has frequently been the case, loses money — oil companies will eventually shut them down. Even… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Dec 24, 2009 with no responses

My Top 10 Energy Related Stories of 2009

Here are my choices for the Top 10 energy related stories of 2009. Previously I listed how I voted in Platt’s Top 10 poll, but my list is a bit different from theirs. I have a couple of stories here that they didn’t list, and I combined some topics. And don’t get too hung up on the relative rankings. You can make arguments that some stories should be higher than others, but I gave less consideration to whether 6 should be ahead of 7 (for example) than just making sure the important stories were listed. 1. Volatility in the oil markets My top choice for this year is the same as my top choice from last year. While not as… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 22, 2009 with no responses

Catching Up

Back home now, just trying to catch up on the energy news of note. Four stories that I want to highlight. First was POET’s announcement on their progress on cellulosic ethanol: Poet hits ‘long shot,’ cuts cellulosic ethanol costs WASHINGTON – The head of the world’s largest ethanol producer, Sioux Falls-based Poet, said Wednesday that his company has drastically cut its cellulosic ethanol production costs. It is a breakthrough that will allow cellulosic ethanol to compete with gasoline within two years. Jeff Broin, Poet chief executive, told reporters during a roundtable discussion that the company has reduced its cellulosic ethanol production cost during the past year from $4.13 a gallon to $2.35 a gallon. Andrew Leonard of Salon asked me… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Oct 9, 2009 with no responses

What Would Ron Wyden Do?

The refining sector has been in the news a few times this week, and not in a good way:A Fine Mess For U.S. Refineries HOUSTON — Excess capacity, weak demand for fuels and rising product inventories continue to squeeze margins for U.S. oil refiners. Sunoco, the second-largest refiner in the country that doesn’t produce its own oil, said late Tuesday that it will soon shutter its Eagle Point refinery in Westville, N.J., which has a capacity to handle 145,000 barrels of oil per day. During the second quarter, Philadelphia-based Sunoco lost $77 million in its refining business and told analysts Tuesday that the third quarter could be worse. A point that I have tried to stress is that for the… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 3, 2009 with no responses

Bloggers Go to Billings

I should have Part 2 of the series of answering readers’ questions posted by tomorrow, but until then I was just sent the following link, which was of great personal interest to me: A Green Refinery? The gist is that last year the American Petroleum Institute flew a group of bloggers up to the ConocoPhillips refinery in Billings, Montana where I used to work to give them a perspective of life in a refinery. A video diary of the trip was recently posted to the link above. An excerpt from the link: The refinery has twice been awarded EnergyStar designation by the EPA for its comparatively efficient production processes. It also established a Citizen’s Advisory Council to maintain an open… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Feb 11, 2009 with no responses

Gasoline Demand Has Recovered

It’s been taking place slowly, week after week, but low gas prices have brought gasoline demand back up. There has been anecdotal evidence that suggested demand might be heading higher, such as recovering sales of gas guzzling cars. But for watchers of This Week in Petroleum, the data confirm the anecdotes: Gasoline demand has recovered to the point that it is now higher in the U.S. than it was a year ago. This week’s Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data (off of which This Week in Petroleum is based) shows that the 4-week rolling average has for the first time in recent memory increased above (albeit slightly) the level of a year ago. Another factor to keep an eye on as… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Sep 8, 2008 with no responses

Critiquing the SPR Swap Plan

This morning, I read an interesting editorial in the Wall Street Journal: Obama Has a Plan To Manage Our Oil Reserve The editorial was written by John Shages, a former deputy assistant secretary for petroleum reserves at the Department of Energy. The editorial essentially argues that the composition of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is lighter than the composition of oil that most refineries run. Since lighter crude is also more expensive than heavier crude, Shages is suggesting that we sell some of the light crude and buy back some of the heavy crude. His argument – echoing the argument from Obama and various other government officials – is that this would generate cash and help drive down oil prices…. Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 18, 2008 with no responses

Chavez Had Me Fooled

It seems I have been wrong about Hugo Chavez. I had thought the man didn’t have a clue about the oil business. While companies like ConocoPhillips were pulling in $15.5 billion profits*, they were investing $15.3 billion back into the business. Chavez, on the other hand, was siphoning off the profits of the national oil company of Venezuela, PDVSA, and spreading them among the public in support of his socialist platform. (Shame on those who complain about food shortages). Some, like me, probably thought “A few years of this, and he won’t have any oil profits to spread among the public.” How little I understood of his master plan. You see, at first glance it does seem like his strategy… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Oct 12, 2007 with no responses

Answering Questions – Part II

OK, I think this finishes off the questions. Thanks to all who asked a question. I think this has been a productive exercise, and I hope you find my answers useful. I may do this again at some point, but for now, I am back to posting and then lurking. The Questions Jeff Sutherland asked: It seems to me that electricity is going to be the key energy source in the future….Biofuels, like ethanol, if produced with electrical equipment seems like a good method to store energy….What do you see as the best option for a transportable form of energy in the future? Answer garsky asked: A couple of posts ago you mentioned some things you were doing to prepare… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Oct 11, 2007 with no responses

Answering Questions – Part I

Back in Aberdeen after some very interesting meetings in London, some of which I hope to be able to discuss in the not too distant future. I started working my way through the list of questions while I was in London and had some spare time. Some of the questions really warrant a stand-alone post. Instead of posting one very long blog, I am going to break this up into at least 2 parts. I have been working my way through the questions in the order they were posted. Click on each answer link below the question and it will take you to the answer in the essay. The Questions Tad asked: Where do you see the oil industry in… Continue»